Ford gives raises to more than 700 UAW members

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. exceeded expectations in the first quarter by giving nearly $10-an-hour raises to more than 700 hourly United Auto Workers members in Kansas City, Chicago and Louisville as part of its 2011 contract with the UAW. The Dearborn automaker originally planned to transition 300-500 workers from two-tier to one-tier pay during the first three months of 2015.

The UAW-Ford Department announced the latest number Thursday on Twitter.

Ford had to give the workers raises because, under the 2011 UAW contract, it is only allowed to hire 20 percent of its workforce at the two-tier wage level. It recently surpassed that cap after adding more than 5,000 hourly jobs across its U.S. manufacturing facilities last year.

"Ford is committed to career progression for our hourly workers," the automaker said in a statement. "As part of the UAW-Ford collective bargaining agreement, our commitment was to transition employees to the 'new traditional' status once we exceeded our entry-level allowance, which we are doing. This agreement has contributed to Ford's competitiveness and has enabled us to create 15,000 new jobs and invest more than $6.2 billion in our U.S. plants."

Ford has invested more than $8 billion in its U.S. plants, according to a report by the UAW. In its 2011 contract, Ford had promised to create 12,000 hourly jobs and invest $6.2 billion in the U.S. by 2015.

The announcement that the first Ford workers would transition marked 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; General Motors Co. and FCA US LLC don't have cap limits.

The two-tier system will be a major topic of discussion at negotiations between the UAW and automakers this fall. Last month at a special bargaining convention, many UAW members called for the elimination of the tier system, and UAW President Dennis Williams said he would seek raises for all UAW members.

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