UAW, Ford deal includes $10K bonus, $9B in investment

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

The United Auto Workers on Friday reached a proposed tentative agreement on a new labor contract with Ford Motor Co. that is richer than a pact reached with General Motors Co. and includes a $10,000 signing bonus and $9 billion in U.S. plant investments, according to a source familiar with the deal who asked to remain anonymous because details have not been shared with UAW leaders.

The pact also would include $1,750 in additional annual bonuses and would pattern wage increases for veteran workers that are the same as a deal ratified by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles workers and a tentative agreement reached between GM and the UAW, according to the source. Ford’s agreement also includes moving entry-level workers to traditional workers’ health care plans, similar to the GM plan, and would include $70,000 early retirement buyouts based on seniority.

Some details of the tentative deal were first reported by Bloomberg News and the Detroit Free Press.

The National Ford Council will meet at 10 a.m. Monday in Detroit to discuss the proposed tentative deal. If the council approves it, the deal will be taken to rank-and-file members for ratification voting.

The Dearborn automaker is the last of the Detroit automakers to negotiate with the union.

“We appreciate the solidarity from our members while we worked to secure the details of this proposed tentative agreement,” UAW President Dennis Williams said. “We negotiated for a proposal that will solidify job security and create substantial economic gains for our hard-working members and their families.”

While the UAW has yet to ratify a deal with General Motors Co., it’s not completely unconventional to come to a tentative agreement with another automaker while talks go on elsewhere. In 2011, the union reached a tentative deal with Chrysler while Ford was voting.

“It’s not that unusual,” said Art Schwartz, a former negotiator with GM and president of Labor and Economics Associates. “They’ve had a month and a half to see this circus go down. They’ve had an opportunity to bargain; it’s not like they’re sitting there playing poker.”

Schwartz said the deal will likely resemble GM’s agreement since the two automakers are similar in terms of profits.

“This agreement is significant for our members in that it creates a clear path for economic advancement for active members and rewards veteran employees for their sacrifices in recent years,” said UAW vice president Jimmy Settles. “It is one of the richest agreements in the history of UAW-Ford.”

The union has issued strike deadlines for both GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but the two automakers have been able to hammer out agreements minutes before both deadlines. But apparently Ford and the union were able to come to an agreement without the threat of a strike.

“Working with our UAW partners, we have reached a tentative agreement for the next four years for our employees and our business,” said John Fleming, Ford executive vice president, global manufacturing and labor affairs. “The agreement, if ratified, will help lead the Ford Motor Co., our employees and our communities into the future.”

Of Ford’s roughly 52,900 UAW members, about 29 percent are second tier, more than GM but far fewer than FCA’s 45 percent. Ford has had a 20 percent cap on its number of second-tier workers, and earlier this year transitioned about 800 to first-tier pay.

If ratified by GM, that includes raises for all workers, an $8,000 signing bonus and improvements to second-tier worker health care.

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