Members of the United Auto Workers will now vote on the tentative agreement the union negotiated with the Ford Motor Co. that follows the pattern set by General Motors and allows Ford to close one of its engine plants.
“It’s their contract and it’s now in their hands now,” said UAW Communication director Brian Rothenberg, adding the ratification vote will wrap up on Nov. 15, which will give senior UAW officials to meet with union members in 18 different states.
Ford now employs about 55,000 UAW members and that figure is expected to grow during the next four years thanks to the $6 billion in new investment Ford has pledged under the tentative agreement reached earlier this week.
In return for clearing the way for closing the engine plant in Romeo, Michigan, the UAW received a commitment to new investment that will bring new products to an assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, and new work to a stamping plant in Buffalo, N.Y. “The UAW does not like plant closures,” he said. “It is unfortunate.”
The investment also includes a commitment of $400 million to the Van Dyke Transmission plant, which is expected to pick up the 600 employees displaced by the end of V8 engine production in Romeo.
The tentative agreement also includes a provision that will expedite the retirement of more senior employees. Eligible production workers will get a $60,000 bonus at retirement. An unlimited number of production workers can retire with the bonus but only 200 skilled trades employees are eligible for the program, according to the union.
As at GM, the new contract also clears a path for Ford’s temporary workers to become full-time employees. About 7% of Ford’s current work force is made up of temporary employees. “Given the numbers, every person who is a temporary will now become full-time employee of the Ford Motor Co.,” Rothenberg said.
The temporary workforce at GM and Ford are structured differently, Rothenberg said, but all of Ford’s temporary employees will have an opportunity to reach the top wage in their plant of approximately $32 per hour.
New full-time employees currently on the Ford payroll also will reach the top of pay scale during the four-year term of the agreement. Future new hires will have to wait four years rather than eight years to reach the top wage also.
In addition, the ratification bonus for Ford workers will be $9,000 rather than the $11,000 at GM. Temporary workers will get $3,500 ratification bonus rather than $4,500 being paid out at GM.
The tentative agreement also includes 4% lump-sum bonus in the first and third year and 3% general wage increase in the second and fourth year of the agreement.
The health care benefit will remain unchanged, Rothenberg said.