Early UAW votes mixed on Ford deal – The Detroit News
Ford Motor Co.’s hourly workers began voting Thursday on a new, four-year agreement between the automaker at the UAW — even before the ratification process was finished at General Motors.
The first results came from Ford’s new model product development center in Allen Park, which builds pre-production vehicles. Approximately 81 percent of the plants production workers voted in favor of the deal, while 54 percent of skilled trades workers voted “yes.”
Later Thursday night, it was announced that roughly 700 workers at UAW Local 898, representing Ford’s Rawsonville plant, voted against the deal, although reaction was split among production and skilled trades workers. Roughly 58 percent of production workers voted against the deal, while 54 percent of skilled trades workers voted “yes.”
Voting takes place Friday at the Sterling Axle Plant, where a handful of union demonstrators gathered Thursday in front of their local union hall with signs to protest the tentative deal.
Seven members of Local 228 stood on the sidewalk off Mound Road in Sterling Heights with signs reading “Just Do It. Vote No.” and “Injury to One is Injury to All! Vote No!” prior to a 10 a.m. informational meeting set to take place at the union hall.
“We want to get the message out that we’re not happy,” said Theresa Emanuele, a 54-year-old first-tier worker who has been at the plant since 1997. “The contract’s supposed to be all about fairness. They’re not doing right by everybody.”
Under the terms of the contract, second-tier workers at Ford’s three parts plants — Sterling Axle, Woodhaven Stamping and Rawsonville — would top out at $19.86 after four or more years. Current first-tier workers would receive a small raise and top out around $22 an hour while maintaining their current benefits and profit sharing. That’s compared to Ford workers at other plants who would receive a top pay of about $29 an hour.
Workers at parts plants for Detroit automakers have traditionally earned lower wages because they compete directly with lower-wage nonunion suppliers, the union said.
“I don’t feel like we’re being treated fairly,” said Ahmed Hashem, 41, from Troy with three years of experience at the plant. “It’s not equal.”
There was similar anger from about 3,400 hourly workers who work at parts plants under the General Motors Co. subsidiary GM Components Holdings LLC. Those workers also receive lower wages. A majority of GMCH workers voted against the pending deal with that automaker.
Under Fiat Chrysler’s first tentative deal, which was rejected, Mopar parts workers would have topped out at $19.86 to about $22. But under the second deal, Mopar workers have a path to a roughly $29 an hour or more — just like their production counterparts.
The protesters who gathered Thursday said they’d be in favor of striking to get a better deal.
“Mopar got what they wanted (after rejecting the first deal),” Hashem said.
But the Ford workers at Sterling Axle understand the deal could likely be ratified even if they overwhelmingly vote no, since the three parts plants represent a small minority of Ford’s total 52,900 workers.
Voting at Ford plants around the country runs through Wednesday.
Arcell Conerly III, a Macomb resident with 21 years of experience at Sterling Axle, said in reality different wage rates remain.
“Yes, it’s a rich contract,” he said. “But we gave up a lot during the recession and we weren’t made whole in this contract.”