More Ford Workers Voting No

Despite heavy pressure from United Auto Workers officials, Ford workers are voting against concessions this week. The two largest ‘no’ votes came from assembly plants in Kansas City and Walton Hills, Ohio: 92 and 88 percent.

Bloomberg News reported today that thus far four plants with 6,100 UAW members have voted yes and seven plants with 11,400 members have voted no. In most locals reporting a ‘yes’ majority the margin is slim, as at Local 900 west of Detroit, with 51 percent in favor.

A St. Paul, Minnesota, plant voted yes 3-1, however: a majority of the workers there are temporaries, who believed the new contract would keep their pay from being cut by 41 percent.

Nick Kottalis, president of the Dearborn Truck unit of historic Local 600 near Detroit, told Labor Notes, “Dearborn Truck will vote it down big time.” His plant makes Ford’s top-selling F-150. Kottalis urged members not to be swayed by the $1,000 bonus Ford was offering in exchange for a no-strike pledge and a six-year wage freeze for new hires (who make half regular pay).

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In a leaflet, Kottalis compared the bonus to Ford execs’ pay: “The last time I checked I believe they make more than $1,000 per hour. What happened to the equal sacrifice of the last modifications in March?”

Kottalis said members were “infuriated” that company and union were coming back for more concessions. The UAW volunteered for cuts at Ford even before the government set contract terms for GM and Chrysler last spring. “Under pattern bargaining, that was going to be the pattern,” Kottalis said. “There wouldn't be no more coming back to the table for concessions.”

Kottalis’s leaflet accused local and international officials of ordering appointed reps (such as health and safety and benefit reps) to campaign for the concessions on pain of losing their positions. He told Labor Notes, “Every one of my reps already told me they were voting it down till they had a meeting with [International VP] Bob King and [Local 600 President] Jerry Sullivan. Now they're being forced to go out and campaign for it.”

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger went to Louisville to push for the agreement and King attempted to do so at Dearborn Truck—but was shouted down.

Jane Slaughter is a former editor of Labor Notes and co-author of Secrets of a Successful Organizer.