Ford, UAW Reach Agreement On New Contract

Ford and the UAW have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. As part of the deal, Ford announced it will hire 5,750 additional workers in the U.S. The deal also includes $6,000 signing bonuses. But entry-level workers will be hired at around $7 an hour, far less than the average wage for veteran UAW workers.

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The United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Company have reached a tentative contract agreement. The deal will mean nearly 6,000 new union jobs in the U.S. and more profit sharing.

As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports now, what UAW workers won't get is a raise in their base pay.

SONARI GLINTON: To some degree or another, each of the Detroit three is profitable; Ford is the most so. Workers wanted more of the pie and it appears they got it. Ford will pay workers a $6,000 signing bonus and give them $3,700 in profit sharing. Now, that's in addition to bonus checks they've already received.

Ford's John Fleming calls the deal fair.

JOHN FLEMING: But we also believe and are very happy with the fact that it will continue to improve our competitiveness directly here in the United States.

GLINTON: Ford will remain competitive by only having to increase its hourly labor costs by about one percent. The union will get more workers, but all of them at entry level wages, about $11 less than veteran UAW workers.

The UAW's head, Bob King, says he's aware of the potential danger ahead for the U.S. car industry.

BOB KING: We're also aware of the world that we live in. We're aware that our membership makes more money overall than the Hyundai, Kias and the Volkswagens and a number of transnationals.

GLINTON: Before this deal, Ford's labor costs were higher than the other U.S. auto makers. Kristen Dziczek is with the Center for Automotive Research. She says now they have parity.

KRISTEN DZICZEK: The only thing that will make Ford different now is Ford's own business situation, which they control.

GLINTON: Dziczek says there's no clear winner in this contract.

DZICZEK: Ford went into this looking for parity with the other two and they got that, so I think, you know, having a level playing field with one of their major competitors was very important to them and they got that.

For the UAW, they wanted jobs, jobs, jobs and more money in their paychecks and they got that.

GLINTON: It's up to Ford's 41,000 UAW workers to decide now. The contract goes to them to be ratified. Union leaders expect that to happen within the next two weeks.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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