Ford Union Workers Ratify New Contract

Union workers at Ford have ratified a new contract that does not include wage increases for most workers — but does obligate Ford to create 5,750 new jobs in the U.S.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Members of the United Auto Workers have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract agreement with Ford Motor Company. The deal means nearly 6,000 new jobs in the U.S. It also means current workers get a degree of job security, and they'll likely get fatter profit-sharing checks. But NPR's Sonari Glinton reports that most Ford workers will not be getting a raise.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Of the Detroit Three, workers at Ford felt they were in the best position going into bargaining. Ford has had nine profitable quarters in a row.

KRISTIN DZICEK: The workers really felt like, you know, this is the time.

GLINTON: Kristin Dzicek, with the Center for Automotive Research, says workers saw a company on the rebound.

DZICEK: Ford is doing very well. Their executive is compensated very well. And we think this is the time to get back much of what we gave up to help restructure this company and put them back on a path to profitability.

GLINTON: But Ford workers won't get back a lot of what they gave up - no raises for veteran workers, no cost-of-living adjustments. Dzicek says Ford's profits could disappear quickly if the economy takes a dive.

DZICEK: There's a lot of things that are very uncertain going forward, and I think the company and the international unions structured a deal so that they can weather any uncertainty that might come their way.

GLINTON: Workers voted nearly two to one to approve the deal. The company is offering security by promising to invest $16 billion in the U.S. on new cars, trucks and retooling plants. That means nearly 6,000 new jobs. Ryan Jones is one of Ford's recent hires at the Chicago assembly plant.

RYAN JONES: It's probably the hardest work I've ever done in my life. And it may seem easy and simple at first, but the speed and the rate that they want you to get it done, it's painful.

GLINTON: Jones, like all new hires, has been brought on at a lower pay scale than veteran workers. That lower pay will go up to $19 an hour under the new contract, still far below the 28 and up his veteran colleagues make. Jones describes how knowing that makes him feel.

JONES: Terrible, terrible. Yeah. We're doing the same job as somebody else, and they're making 28, $30 an hour. And they got me like half of - not even half of what they make.

GLINTON: Jones and other workers say they don't like everything in the new contract, but he says the union is doing what it can for workers while trying to help the company compete. Plus, he says there's always the next contract, in 2015. Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.