Framing the Dialogue

Ford Draws Short Straw

Henry-FordAbout 75 percent of the members of the United Auto Workers Union rejected a deal that would have given concessions to the Ford Motor Company.  The concessions were reported to be similar to those given to GM (Government Motors) and Chrysler after they received large sums of bailout money.  Ford Motor Company did not take government help and has emerged as the strongest of the “Big 3” American automakers.  Ford was the only U.S. automaker not to file bankruptcy…yet.

I found it very hard to believe that the UAW would not offer the same concessions to Ford that it gave to GM and Chrysler.  I thought this was more union positioning to bring down another automaker and maybe end up owning Ford.  The UAW already owns 20 percent of GM

I was wrong as the UAW negotiated the contract and supported the measures which were describes as fairly minimal.  The members rejected the proposal themselves and seem to feel that since Ford was not filing bankruptcy that they should not have to have any concessions.  In fact opponents of the contract actually want to start getting some of the previous concessions back from Ford.  Ford has not filed for bankruptcy protection, but felt that the concessions were necessary to put them on the same labor cost footing as the two bailed out automakers. 

It is hard to imagine that workers would not give in to what were termed minor concessions considering the climate of a failing U.S. auto industry, a global recession, and U.S. unemployment poised to go into double digits (over 10%).  The new agreement even appeared to have some components to protect jobs.  This sounds like rolling the dice to me, but I am not protected by a union.

It will be interesting to watch how Ford has to respond in order to stay solvent.  They have seemed to make all of the right moves so far.  Henry Ford would be proud.

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