$7,500 Bonus Not Enough Say UAW Ford Workers.
The UAW’s harsh reaction Thursday night to a TV report — which suggested Ford workers would get a $7,500 signing bonus, or $2,500 more than those at General Motors — gives a glimpse into the complications the union faces in reaching a deal at Ford.
Late Thursday, UAW President Bob King and Vice President Jimmy Settles labeled the report as “false and misleading.”
“These false rumors are irresponsible and unfair to our members. They are designed to intentionally create false expectations,” Settles wrote in an unusual Facebook message to workers. “I apologize for any harm that may have been done by this reckless news report.”
But while UAW leaders were concerned the $7,500 report might set expectations too high, several Ford workers told the Free Press they are expecting more than that. And on the UAW-Ford Facebook page, employee Karin Kley Danke posted: “I would vote no for a $7,500 bonus. We want a bigger bonus.”
After watching Ford earn more than $14.2 billion since 2008, Ford workers are expecting a big payout in this year’s contract, for which negotiations are ongoing. The workers contend they sacrificed more than executives, who have received substantial bonuses, and salaried workers for whom Ford restored merit raises and bonuses in 2010.
Ford stock fell 3.2% Friday to $9.68, its second-lowest closing price since Dec. 21, 2009.
Ford, UAW to continue talks during weekend
After a fifth consecutive day of high-level talks, negotiations between Ford and the UAW ended early Friday evening and are to continue through the weekend.
Earlier this week, UAW workers at General Motors ratified a four-year agreement that calls for a $5,000 signing bonus, up to a $3.50-an-hour raise for entry-level, second-tier workers, and annual $1,000 payments in each of the next three years billed as “inflation protection.”
But Ford workers expect more.
“At Ford, we did not take a loan from the government and we were able to stay afloat during that very troublesome period,” said Palemon Posey, 48, who works at Ford’s Dearborn truck plant. “In fact, we have made more profit than the other two companies combined. That’s what the Ford workers are looking at.”
Earlier this year, the UAW filed an “equality of sacrifice” grievance against Ford, signed by 35,000 of its 40,600 members at Ford.
The gist of the complaint is that Ford restored merit raises, bonuses and matching retirement account contributions for white-collar workers in 2010.
In 2009, the union rejected a tentative Ford deal that called for the same concessions it gave GM and Chrysler as part of their government-backed bankruptcies.
That included suspending the right to strike in favor of binding arbitration in the case of an impasse, among other conditions.
“We’ve all sacrificed a lot. We’ve given up so that the company could survive,” worker Dail Debruyne posted on the UAW-Ford Facebook page. “What do they do to show their appreciation? Give the salaried white-collar raises, bonuses and 401(k) matches.”
UAW President Bob King and Vice President Jimmy Settles attacked as “false and misleading” a WDIV-TV report Thursday that an agreement between the union and Ford, whenever reached, would include a $7,500 signing bonus for each worker.
The report did not clarify whether the UAW would drop its grievance in exchange for the larger signing bonus. But it underscores the challenge King and Settles have in managing members’ expectations.
New jobs and products?
Another key issue is how many jobs Ford will commit to preserve or add in the next four years. Ford CEO Alan Mulally repeated that Ford plans to add or preserve about 6,250 hourly jobs over the next two years.
Assembly plants in Flat Rock, Avon Lake, Ohio, and Kansas City are losing vehicles without having new vehicle production assigned to them. Ford’s St. Paul, Minn., assembly plant will build its last Ranger pickup truck in December, and some of its 750 workers hope to transfer to other Ford plants.
An engine plant in Romeo, which only makes V8 engines, faces uncertainty because Ford is replacing many V8s with V6 EcoBoost engines in large cars, trucks and SUVs.
Other parts plants in Saline, Mich., and Sandusky, Ohio, could be sold. The union will try to preserve transfer rights for some of those employees.
Workers whose jobs are less certain — whose plants are closing or not fully used — may be willing to approve an agreement that is close to what the UAW negotiated with GM.
“I don’t see (the GM deal) as being all that bad, but I also don’t see it as being all that good,” said Sandra Perry, who works at Ford’s AutoAlliance assembly plant in Flat Rock, which will make only the Mustang after production of the Mazda6 sedan ends. Source: Greg Gardner, Detroit Free Press.