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UAW calls plant leaders to Detroit, nears Ford deal
October 3, 2011 / 3:42 AM / 6 years ago

UAW calls plant leaders to Detroit, nears Ford deal

DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers on Sunday night called its local union plant officials to Detroit for a Tuesday meeting in anticipation of reaching an agreement with Ford Motor Co (F.N) on a new four-year contact, the UAW said.

Michele Martin, UAW spokeswoman, said the union “hopes” it will have an agreement to present to the local union leaders at the Tuesday meeting.

Sunday night, UAW and Ford negotiators continued negotiations for the seventh consecutive day. Talks began in late July.

Martin said the union plant leaders were called on Sunday in order for them to travel to Detroit in time for the Tuesday meeting. She said there was no guarantee that there will be a deal in hand by Tuesday, however.

Ford’s 41,000 unionized workers expect to reach a richer deal than one ratified last week for 48,500 General Motors Co (GM.N) workers.

Unlike GM and Chrysler Group LLC, Ford did not undergo a federally funded bankruptcy and bailout in 2009. Also, it is the only one of the three Detroit automakers where workers can call a strike.

Ford hourly UAW workers filed a grievance against the company that has yet to be settled, but may be part of the deal now said to be near. The grievance says that Ford gave pay increases to its salaried workers, but not similar increases to its hourly workforce.

The union reached a deal with GM on September 17 and last week workers ratified a four-year contract that calls for bonuses rather than wage increases for most workers and pay increases for lower-paid “second-tier” employees.

The UAW turned its primary attention to the Ford talks on September 21 after talks at Chrysler stalled.

The contracts at all three automakers were to expire on September 14, but were extended. Ford’s contract was extended indefinitely and Chrysler’s contract was extended to October 19.

Chrysler has about 23,500 UAW-represented workers. It also is in the weakest financial position among the three. Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of both Chrysler and Fiat SpA FIA.MI is under pressure to hold the line on costs.

An agreement with Chrysler may be the most difficult for the UAW among the Detroit companies, analysts say.

Fiat took management control of Chrysler after the No.3 U.S. automaker’s bankruptcy and this year became its majority owner.

If Chrysler and the union are not able to reach an agreement, unresolved issues will go to arbitration.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Matt Driskill

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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