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Ford Union Workers Ratify New Contract


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. Members of the United Auto Workers have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract agreement with Ford Motor Company. The deal means nearly 6,000 new jobs in the U.S. It also means current workers get a degree of job security, and they'll likely get fatter profit-sharing checks. But NPR's Sonari Glinton reports that most Ford workers will not be getting a raise.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Of the Detroit Three, workers at Ford felt they were in the best position going into bargaining. Ford has had nine profitable quarters in a row.

KRISTIN DZICEK: The workers really felt like, you know, this is the time.

GLINTON: Kristin Dzicek, with the Center for Automotive Research, says workers saw a company on the rebound.

DZICEK: Ford is doing very well. Their executive is compensated very well. And we think this is the time to get back much of what we gave up to help restructure this company and put them back on a path to profitability.

GLINTON: But Ford workers won't get back a lot of what they gave up - no raises for veteran workers, no cost-of-living adjustments. Dzicek says Ford's profits could disappear quickly if the economy takes a dive.

DZICEK: There's a lot of things that are very uncertain going forward, and I think the company and the international unions structured a deal so that they can weather any uncertainty that might come their way.

GLINTON: Workers voted nearly two to one to approve the deal. The company is offering security by promising to invest $16 billion in the U.S. on new cars, trucks and retooling plants. That means nearly 6,000 new jobs. Ryan Jones is one of Ford's recent hires at the Chicago assembly plant.

RYAN JONES: It's probably the hardest work I've ever done in my life. And it may seem easy and simple at first, but the speed and the rate that they want you to get it done, it's painful.

GLINTON: Jones, like all new hires, has been brought on at a lower pay scale than veteran workers. That lower pay will go up to $19 an hour under the new contract, still far below the 28 and up his veteran colleagues make. Jones describes how knowing that makes him feel.

JONES: Terrible, terrible. Yeah. We're doing the same job as somebody else, and they're making 28, $30 an hour. And they got me like half of - not even half of what they make.

GLINTON: Jones and other workers say they don't like everything in the new contract, but he says the union is doing what it can for workers while trying to help the company compete. Plus, he says there's always the next contract, in 2015. Sonari Glinton, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.