UAW: Ford will move some 2nd-tier workers to top wages

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will give more than 50 hourly workers $9-an-hour raises after Dearborn automaker exceeded its cap on the number of entry-level workers it’s allowed under its current union contract, the United Auto Workers announced Friday.

Under the contract with the UAW, Ford is allowed to hire 20 percent of its workforce at a second-tier wage, excluding some workers at certain plants whose jobs were created by moving work in-house. It recently surpassed that cap, the UAW said.

“At this time, 55 UAW-Ford workers will receive the wage increases, which put them in the category of non entry-level employment,” Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW’s Ford department, said in a statement. “By agreeing to the entry-level wages, the UAW was instrumental in creating a pay scale that helped keep Ford Motor Co. and other auto manufacturers competitive. The higher wages announced today help workers, families and the communities where they live and work.”

According to the most recent figures on the Ford-UAW website, the automaker had 14,239 full-time entry-level hourly employees as of Jan. 18, and was allowed 14,308 — a difference of just 69 workers. The UAW says that since then, the cap has been exceeded.

Since the cap has been exceeded, the most senior entry-level workers will go from making about $19 an hour to $28 an hour. It marks the first time that any of the union’s members have moved up to a higher pay scale since it agreed to two-tier wages in 2007.

“Our workers have sacrificed and this is just a milestone within our contract to begin to close the gap in rewarding all of our members,” UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement. “They sacrificed and saved not just an industry, but the American economy.”

Ford did not immediately respond to news of the UAW announcement.

Ford is the only one of Detroit’s Big Three automakers with a cap on its second-tier workers.

Since 2011, it has added more than 14,000 jobs, including more than 4,000 in southeastern Michigan at locations including Michigan Assembly, Flat Rock Assembly and Dearborn Truck. That number exceeded its 2011 pledge to add 11,000 workers.

Ford this week said it would give its hourly workers profit-sharing checks of about $6,900 in March. Last year workers received a record $8,800.

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