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Bob King Elected UAW President

Show down at Ford Motor Coming?

by on Jun.16, 2010

Bob King, incoming UAW president, inherits a union that is less than a quarter of its size three decades ago.

A tired looking Bob King was overwhelmingly elected to succeed Ron Gettlefinger as president of the troubled union.

Gettlefinger retired after two terms, which saw the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler and an unprecedented  downsizing of union jobs.

King prevailed in a roll call vote against challenger Gary Walkowicz, 61, a Local 600 bargaining committee member at Ford Motor Co.’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

The 63-year-old King, has been a UAW vice president since 1998 and headed the UAW’s National Ford Department since 2006. He played a major role in both the UAW Ford 2007 National Agreement and the 2009 modifications to the agreement, which is now a source of contention among members.

Delegates also elected by acclamation UAW Region 4 Director Dennis Williams to the post of secretary-treasurer, the union’s number two post.  He succeeds retiring UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn.

Williams was elected director of UAW Region 4 at a special convention in 2001 and re-elected in 2002 and 2006 at the UAW Constitutional Conventions in Las Vegas. Region 4 includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Convention delegates re-elected by acclamation incumbent UAW vice presidents James Settles Jr., and General Holiefield, as well as new vice presidents Joe Ashton and Cindy Estrada. Ashton is director of UAW Region 9, which covers western and central New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Estrada is director of the union*s National Organizing Department. She becomes the union*s first Latina vice president.

Also by acclamation delegates elected UAW 863 President Phyllis Blust to serve a six-year term as an International trustee. She fills the position vacated by Tito Sanchez.

New UAW Leaders Facing Loss of Clout

“We’ve had our share of disappointments.”

by on Jun.14, 2010

“We’ve had our share of disappointments," acknowledged UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, as union leaders prepared to elect his successor.

The United Auto Workers Union will select new leaders this week as it holds its 35th Constitutional Convention in Detroit as it struggles with a sharp decline  in membership, a battered public image and fading clout at the bargaining table.

“It’s a union that has a glorious history,” said Mike Smith, chief archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University said Monday.  But one whose future is anything but certain.

What is clear is that the new leadership team will be trying to halt the steady erosion of both the union’s clout and the gains made its membership since the UAW was born out of the sit-down strikes that helped organize General Motors more than 70 years ago.

Ron Gettelfinger, the union’s outgoing president,  has faced some of the most serious challenges to confront the union since those early days.

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“We’ve had our share of disappointments and setbacks,” said Gettelfinger, but, he quickly added, “we have also had major victories. Workers at Tenneco have been on strike for over five years and we have three additional strikes under way. We saw the impact of downsizing and the pain associated with the Peterbilt, NUMMI and other closings,” Gettelfinger said.

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Good News Could be Bad News for Ford

Workers reject concessions; exec pay, profits spur backlash.

by on Nov.02, 2009

Ford CEO Alan Mulally will likely have some good news to announce in regards to Q3 earnings, today, but the news will be undercut by word the UAW has rejected a package of proposed concessions.

CEO Alan Mulally will likely good news on Q3 earnings, today, but it will be undercut by the UAW's rejection of proposed concessions.

With one of the worst recessions slowly dragging to a close and auto sales just beginning to show some vague signs of life after the more severe downturn in decades, one might think the likelihood of a good third-quarter earnings report by Ford Motor Co. would be something to cheer about.

Not necessarily.  Ironically, it could make it even harder for Ford to compete in the long-run.

Though the automaker has so far posted profits of $834 million for the first six months of 2009 – a sharp turnaround from the $29.8 billion it lost between 2006 and 2008 – this year’s black ink was largely due to debt reduction and one-time charges and, and not a true profit from operations.  But the third quarter, according to analysts’ estimates, is expected to bring black ink from what Ford is supposed to do best: build and sell automobiles.

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The forecasts variety widely.  One survey, by Thompson Reuters, predicts a relatively modest loss of 13 cents, barely 10% of the $1.31 loss during the third quarter last year.  But J.P. Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel is more bullish, forecasting a 16 cent profit per share.

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New European Kuga to Replace Aging Ford Escape?

Program needed to help sell givebacks by UAW leaders to Ford.

by on Oct.23, 2009

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Escape replacement or addendum?

Ford needs workers at its Louisville Assembly Plant to approve a new round of apparently huge concessions. Workers in Louisville need Ford to give them a new product to build.

Both sides may get what they want, or not.

The automaker is reportedly getting ready to produce a U.S. version of its European crossover/SUV, the Kuga. It would go into Louisville as early as 2011, according to analyst Michael Robinet, of CSM Worldwide, though the analyst said it is unclear whether the new vehicle will maintain the familiar Escape name.

Ford has told the United Auto Workers Union it would build an unspecified “incremental product” at the Louisville plant – if they support concessions the company says it needs to become more competitive.

However, if the Kuga replaces Escape, it would hardly be incremental, or if it is just a niche vehicle then job creation will be minimal.

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Ford Wants Changes in UAW contract

Automaker wants big changes, including no-strike clause.

by on Jul.21, 2009

Ford quality is up, says CEO Alan Mulally; now it wants more cost-cutting by the UAW.

Ford quality is up, says CEO Alan Mulally; now it wants more cost-cutting by the UAW.

Ford Motor Co. has approached the United Auto Workers Union about changes in the contract that it negotiated in February before General Motors and Chrysler Group LLC used the threat of bankruptcy to obtain even greater concessions from the union.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford group vice president for global manufacturing, said that the company has already discussed possible changes with the UAW and is now ready to negotiate a revised deal.

“On economics we have the same package,” said Hinrichs, referring to the deals granted Chrysler and GM. However, Ford is looking for additional changes in contract language that would consolidate the number of skilled trades classification. That can translate into dramatic reductions in labor costs and marked improvement in productivity – as well as impacting quality.

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Ford had won a reduction in earlier rounds of negotiations in 2006 and 2007, but the new GM and Chrysler contracts go even further, accepting just two classifications.  Ford would like to obtain the same language.

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