Ford and UAW Negotiations: Last may be First
Then there was one. In this case, the "one" is Ford Motors which is waiting for its turn to negotiate a new contract with the United Auto Workers union. Pundits say that it is fortunate for Ford to be the last because the automaker is the "weakest link" of the troubled Detroit Three. The Detroit News reports the company lost $12.6 billion last year and has mortgaged its U.S. assets -- including its name and famous blue oval -- in order to get back into the black by 2009. The idea of dealing with one auto maker at a time is not new. Usually, the contract that the UAW negotiates with the first automaker becomes the basis of the contracts with the other two. Not this year. After getting a settlement with General Motors, the union negotiated a contract with Chrysler which has some significant differences. That is expected to be the case when the finished product is achieved in negotiations with Ford. And what are those differences? Reports say that Ford wants an agreement that will help it close the gap between it and the Asian automakers in terms of the cost of constructing a car. Ford CEO Alan Mulally said that he will not sign an agreement unless it offers some kind of way for Ford to be more competitive with Toyota and Honda. This could include a deeper discount on its contribution to the retiree healthcare trust and more blue collar buyouts to reduce its workforce. Our take? Shall we brace ourselves for another strike?
We haven't seen or heard the word "defectors" used to this extent since the end of the Cold War.