* UAW says Ford white-collar pay broke deal
* Arbitration hearing comes day after contract expires
* UAW, GM talks wrap up Thursday, will continue Friday
(Adds that GM, UAW wrapped up talks Thursday, to resume
Friday, paragraphs 7-8)
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT, Sept 15 The United Auto Workers union
took a contract grievance against Ford Motor Co (F.N) to an
arbitration hearing on Thursday, a day after contracts for all
three Detroit automakers expired and hopes for a quick
settlement were dashed.
The Ford workers' grievance claims that the company broke
an agreement for equal treatment of unionized workers and
salaried employees by giving white-collar workers raises and
reinstated 401(k) matches and not reinstating similar increases
to unionized workers.
The issue raised in the grievance represents one of the
major sticking points in talks between the No. 2 U.S. automaker
and the union. Earlier this week, Ford and the UAW agreed to
extend the current contract.
Ford and the union have long known that the arbitration
hearing was set for the day after the four-year contract for
UAW workers was to expire. This led to speculation that a
settlement of the grievance would be folded into a new
An outcome is not expected Thursday, a person familiar with
the matter said.
Contracts for Ford, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Chrysler
Group LLC expired near midnight on Wednesday. Both GM and
Chrysler negotiating teams were back at the table on Thursday
with the UAW.
Negotiations between the UAW and GM ended at 9 p.m.
Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said. GM and the
union were to resume talks on Friday at about 9 a.m.
In a statement, GM said the talks with the union continued
to make progress.
"We're in the overtime, but it's not unprecedented," said
Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of
MARCHIONNE CHIDES KING
In an unusual wrinkle, Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio
Marchionne sent a fiery letter to UAW President Bob King
Wednesday night saying the union had failed to live up to its
Labor experts called the letter unprecedented in a signal
of how much has changed with the head of a foreign automaker,
Fiat SpA FIA.MI, now also running one of the Detroit Three.
Marchionne runs both Chrysler and Fiat, a dual role he has
had since 2009 when Chrysler emerged from a government-funded
The talks between the UAW and the Detroit automakers began
seven weeks ago, and have been watched as an indicator of how
much the industry has changed since it nearly collapsed two
"We did not accomplish what leaders who have been tasked
with the turning of a new page for this industry should have
done," Marchionne said in the letter to King.
He added that the union and the company had not yet agreed
on the procedures for arbitration.
In the previous six rounds of negotiations since 1990, the
first company to reach tentative agreement has come 1 to 12
days after the expiration of the previous contract, said
Kristin Dziczek, labor relations director at the Center for
Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dziczek said it was "an encouraging sign" that Chrysler was
back at negotiating tables on Thursday after Marchionne's
letter. In the past, she said, company or union representatives
did not always come back to the table the following day after
tempers flared in past talks.
In a memo to GM workers early Thursday morning, the UAW
said it made "significant progress" in talks with GM. Still,
the union had not been able to "secure a new agreement that we
would recommend for ratification."
The talks are playing out at a time of heightened
uncertainty over the outlook for U.S. auto sales for the
remainder of the year and 2012, with the risk of a renewed
GM and Chrysler workers gave up the right to strike in
their 2009 government bailouts funded by the Obama
Ford has the right to strike on major issues in the
contract. The arbitration hearing on Thursday is an issue that
has been simmering at Ford for more than a year.
If such an impasse takes place at GM or Chrysler on any of
the major economic issues such as pay for the so-called
"second-tier" workers who make about half the pay of veteran
workers, healthcare benefits, or profit-sharing bonuses, those
issues must be taken to arbitration.
(Additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman)
(Editing by Gary Hill)