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Despite Fears of Rejection, Workers at Ford, GM Ratify Contracts

Approval frees union leaders to shift focus to new organizing efforts.

by on Nov.21, 2015

GM and UAW officials shown on July 13, 2015 marking the opening of contract talk.

Workers at both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors voted to accept each of their new four-year contract offers, in the process ending what had turned into an unexpectedly contentious round of negotiations – workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles soundly rejecting their own first contract offer.

A variety of offers pitted not only the United Auto Workers Union against Detroit’s Big Three but also saw the UAW having to fend off more militant members of the union. Starting with President Dennis Williams on down, Autoworkers leaders mobilized to sell a revised Chrysler contract. But they continued to run into trouble even with more lucrative offers from GM and Ford.

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At the smaller of the two, 51.3% of production workers and 52.4% of Ford’s skilled tradesmen voted for the contract. Among other things, that vote will earn 53,000 Ford workers ratification bonuses of $8,500.

“Through a fair and democratic process UAW-Ford members have delivered job security and strong economic gains for their families and communities,” said Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW’s Ford department.


UAW Aiming to Recover Big Three Concessions

Union setting course for Detroit contract talks later this year.

by on Mar.17, 2011

Bulldozed by Caterpillar?

As the United Auto Workers prepares to talk about future strategy, the UAW’s course may have already been staked out during the union’s recent negotiations with Caterpillar Tractor Co., in Peoria, Illinois.

While Detroit workers may be hoping to get back some of the big concessions they’ve made over recent years, the union agreed to a contract with Caterpillar including no raises for long-term or first-tier employees and a substantial boost in health care premiums.

Caterpillar workers ratified the new six-year contract, which doesn’t expire until 2017, at the beginning of March.  The settlement sets out a bargaining pattern just as the UAW’s leadership prepares to turn its attention to talks with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group – negotiations set to begin over the summer.

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The Caterpillar contract has served as the template for changes in the union’s contracts with Detroit’s automakers. Two-tier wages, the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, or VEBA, as well as the wider use of temporary workers were all ideas first introduced during the union’s often contentious bargaining at Caterpillar.

In addition, all three automakers are certain to come under heavy pressure from Wall Street to match the terms won by Caterpillar in its new labor pact with the UAW – even though union leaders have been making noises suggesting they will push to gain back some of the concessions they’ve already given to Detroit’s Big Three..


Who’ll Blink First: Chrysler or the CAW?

With deadline looming, neither side seems willing to blink.

by on Apr.17, 2009

Will a dispute with Canadian workers bring down Chrysler? CAW President Ken Lewenza doesn't appear ready to blink.

Will a dispute with Canadian workers bring down Chrysler? Lewenza doesn't appear ready to blink.

There’s a huge game of chicken underway between Chrysler management and the Canadian Auto Workers Union – and it could well decide the fate of the struggling automaker.

Chrysler Chairman Robert Nardelli said new contracts with both the UAW and the Canadian union are now critical to the company’s survival.

“Now, what we’re asking for is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made extraordinarily painful concessions to do more … It will require efforts from a whole host of other stakeholders, including dealers and suppliers,” Nardelli said in a message to employees late Thursday.

“Chrysler and the Canadian Auto Workers union have held a series of meetings, but unfortunately, have not reached an agreement on concessions as outlined by the Canadian government. The CAW has been unwilling to abide by the terms of the Canadian government loan, which requests that the union meet local transplant all-in labor costs. This issue is also critical. Without a successful resolution, the alliance with Fiat and our continued viability is at risk,” Nardelli added.

However, CAW President Ken Lewenza said he wasn’t about to accept Chrysler’s calculations about labor costs in Canada, where the automaker has about 9,000 employees and two key assembly plants. (more…)