Ford, UAW reach tentative contract agreement
October 9, 1999
From staff and wire reports
DEARBORN, Michigan (CNN) -- The United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co. announced a tentative contract agreement Saturday, after a marathon round of negotiations and a temporary walkout by workers at four U.S. plants.
A joint statement announcing the deal contained no details, and officials declined to provide any. But UAW President Stephen P. Yokich has said Ford's contract would have to fit the pattern set in deals with General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG -- four-year agreements with raises of 3 percent each year and a signing bonus.
The Ford workers who walked off the job when their contract expired at midnight returned to work Saturday at plants in St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota. The other two plants affected by the walkout -- which were not scheduled to be open Saturday -- remained closed. Those plants are in Kansas City, Missouri, and Flat Rock, Michigan.
The walkout cost Ford between 90 minutes and four hours of production time. The sticking point in the talks appeared to be Ford's desire to either spin off or sell Visteon, its parts division. The UAW fears such a move would result in the loss of jobs for Visteon's 23,500 UAW members.
The Missouri plants make some of Ford's most profitable vehicles, including the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle and F-150 trucks. At the Michigan factory, Ford produces the Mercury Cougar and Mazda 626, while its plant in St. Paul produces extended-cab pickups.
'Wake-up call to Ford Motor Co.'
Larry Senyard, treasurer of Local 325 in St. Louis, said the walkout there was "kind of like a wake-up call to Ford Motor Co."
The UAW reached contract earlier agreements with DamilerChrysler and General Motors. It saved Ford for last because the Visteon issue was expected to be especially contentious.
The deals struck with GM and DaimlerChrysler limit the conditions for the companies to spin off subsidiaries and include a provision for workers at GM to freely transfer between the automaker and Delphi, the parts division GM spun off earlier this year.
The Ford talks had resumed at 8 a.m. Friday and continued into Saturday. Ford President Jac Nasser canceled a trip to Paris so he could "monitor" the talks from close-by, according to Ford, but it was unclear whether he was directly involved in the negotiations.
UAW President Stephen P. Yokich told union members earlier in the week that Ford was being "stubborn" about accepting contracts similar to those reached with GM and DaimlerChrysler. During negotiations in 1993 and 1996, the UAW found Ford's proposal best and settled with it first, setting the pattern for the other two companies.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Contract talks between UAW, Big Three automakers enter final stretch
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