UAW and Ford Poised to Avoid Strike

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KEYWORDS auto cars FCA

Oct. 31, 2019—Less than seven days after members of the United Auto Workers union returned to work at GM, reports negotiators for the UAW and Ford announced late Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to avoid a standoff and strike.

Neither Ford nor the UAW disclosed any details, but 55,000 union members at Ford still need and are expected to ratify the agreement. Ford hasn’t encountered a work stoppage since 1976. The deal news is a swift counterpoint to the dealings at GM, where nearly 50,000 workers have been on strike since Sept. 16 in a shutdown that cost the manufacturer roughly $2.9 billion. Though GM shut down three American factories this year, no such reprise has occurred at Ford and no plant closings are imminent.

The new deal will likely mimic much of what was established by the GM strike. Hourly workers will receive an $11,000 signing bonus, a 6% raise over the four-year life of the contract, essentially unchanged health care coverage and an agreement to allow many temporary workers to be hired on a permanent basis.

Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group (a Michigan research firm that follows the automotive industry), told reports, “It appears both parties took a sane approach, and avoided a painful strike that would have benefited neither of them.” 

As the US economy continues to slow with a threat of recession on the horizon, the auto industry faces a tough dilemma: it needs to spend billions in research and development for the next generation of autonomous, electric and self-driving cars that may not even be profitable for many years.

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