Ford, UAW correct proposed contract as voting continues

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers corrected an error in the proposed 2019 labor contract that would have resulted in nearly 10,000 hourly workers missing out on pay raises. The correction came as Ford-UAW members around the country vote on the tentative agreement.

The deal, which would include raises, lump-sum bonuses and pathways by which different tiers of employees could earn top wages, has been voted down by one major Ford plant. The largest UAW locals are expected to vote next week, but a majority of casting ballots at Ford's problem-plagued Chicago Assembly Plant said "no" to the deal this week. All votes are due Nov. 15.

More: Follow the UAW-Ford contract vote

In a letter posted at UAW locals, the union said a clerical error in the agreement would have prevented some in-progression employees who had already received annual wage increases as part of the 2015 contract from receiving wage increases as part of the new contract. The correction effectively ensures all in-progression employees receive the raise negotiated as a part of the Ford proposed tentative agreement.

"No" votes represented 60% of the ballots cast by members of UAW Local 551 in Chicago. Roughly half of the 5,000-plus workers represented by that local did not vote.

However, majorities at six of the smaller UAW locals representing Ford workers have voted in favor of the 2019 agreement. Members at Local 245 in Dearborn, Local 931 in Allen Park, Local 898 in Ypsilanti, Local 897 in Buffalo, Local 3036 in Memphis and Local 3519 in Winchester, Virginia, voted in to ratify the tentative agreement. Most passed the vote with a more than 60% majority.

The tentative agreement includes $6 billion in investment in Ford's U.S. facilities. It also includes a moratorium on outsourcing and plant closures through the life of the four-year contract. The one exception is the closure of the Romeo Engine Plant; the 600 hourly employees who work there would be offered jobs at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant about 15 miles away.

The deal, like the GM contract, includes 3% wage increases in the second and fourth years and 4% lump-sum bonuses in the first and third years for eligible permanent employees, according to a UAW summary of the deal.

Permanent employees would receive $9,000 ratification bonuses — less than the $11,000 sum to GM employees who were on strike for six weeks, but more than the $8,500 Ford employees received in 2015. Ford's temporary employees would receive a $3,500 signing bonus; that compares to the $4,500 going to GM workers in the latest contract, and the $2,000 Ford workers got in 2015.

Under the proposed contract, on Jan. 6, 2020, all temporary employees with three or more years experience will receive full-time status. If a temporary reaches three years with the company in 2020 they will be promoted to full time. If a temporary employee reaches two years or more in 2021 they will be converted to full-time status.

In the proposed agreement, the UAW-Ford bargaining team was able to put a cap of 8% on the amount of temporary employees Ford hires company-wide and 10% at any given facility, unless otherwise approved by the national parties.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau