Ratification of the United Auto Workers tentative agreement with the Ford Motor Co. appears to have hit a speed bump as workers at the company’s big Chicago assembly plant voted to reject it by a decisive margin.
The unofficial tally from the vote by both production workers and skilled trades had 1,599 union members voting no while 1,030 voted yes. The breakout had skilled trades voting to accept the agreement 117 to 102 but production workers voted it down 1,497 to 913.
Meanwhile, local leaders from UAW Local 249 at Ford’s assembly plant in Kansas City, Missouri, have indicated they do not intend to support the tentative agreement after speaking out against it during a meeting for the UAW-Ford Council in Detroit last week.
Big assembly plants can often make or break a ratification vote. Last month, big “yes” votes from General Motors assembly plants in Flint, Michigan, Wentzville, Missouri, and Arlington, Texas led to the ratification of the tentative agreement with GM and the end of the UAW’s 40-day strike against the company.
Votes from big Ford assembly plants in Dearborn, Wayne and Flat Rock, Michigan, and Louisville, Kentucky, have not been completed or tallied yet.
One issue that appears to have created a stir among union members on social media has been contract language in the contract that allows Ford to employ some new technologies, such as video cameras, to conduct time and motion studies. Line workers despise time and motion studies – and the engineers and supervisors that run them – because they often make their jobs more difficult.
Experienced hands will often find ways to do their jobs more efficiently but prefer to keep the extra bits of time they are able to save for the own benefit.
“Somehow it was left out of the contract highlights the United Auto Workers prepared for members: The tentative new agreement with Ford will allow the company to use new technologies to take time-and-motion studies to a whole new level,” according to Labor Notes.
“On Facebook, workers discussed all the ways that management could use technology to target and harass workers and find new ways to eliminate jobs. “If we allow this kind of technology in now, there’s no telling how bad it could get by next contract … just like the tiers!” wrote one worker,” the Labor Notes article noted.