By on October 26, 2009

I'm going to have to talk to my local before doing that... (courtesy:nowpublic.net)

And it wasn’t even close. Though the proposed concessions didn’t even move Ford to parity with its UAW-VEBA-owned cross-town rivals, 92 percent of the KC plant’s workers rejected the deal. According to The Detroit News, a UAW national Vice President tried to convince workers to accept the deal prior to the vote, but was apparently shouted down by angry employees. “(He) spoke and was booed,” said one worker who the DetN did not identify. “There were a lot of ‘No’s!’ It was a very loud meeting.” And apparently, it was the no-strike clause that got workers so steamed. Which makes a certain amount of sense… after all, what good is a union that can’t strike? The problem is that the no-strike clause was a crucial factor in convincing Fiat to take charge of Chrysler, an automaker the UAW ended up with a 60 percent stake in. And now, the worker’s rejection of a Ford agreement strikes an equally rippling blow to the UAW’s pattern-bargaining strategy. Can the UAW have it both ways? It sure looks like it’s going to try. Though KC was the first local rejection of the deal (five other plants narrowly approved it, two have rejected), a vote is approaching (on Friday) at the Dearborn Truck plant that has been a hotbed of UAW dissent. So much so, that it appears that UAW leadership may have delayed the Dearborn vote until after all the other locals’ votes. Still, if the Dearborn vote fails, which it well could, we could see major turmoil within the ranks of the UAW.

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31 Comments on “Ford Kansas City Plant Rejects Contract Modifications...”


  • avatar
    PickupMan

    So what’s Ford’s next move?

    I don’t see them sucking it up and operating at a major disadvantage to GM and Chrysler.

    Attempts to adjust their costs in other ways is likely to cause strikes, slowdowns, etc with the union.

    So what does Saint Alan do next to keep the ship afloat?

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Workers who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

  • avatar
    rnc

    So what does Saint Alan do next to keep the ship afloat?

    Close the plants that vote the deal down after the currect contract expires. If you look at ford’s plan, it is to move to making all cars worldwide off of 6 platforms. Look at where ford has been building it’s factories. India (B platform), Malaysia (C, platform), eastern europe and russia (A, B, C and C/D).

    Mexico – Trucks.

    Basically all of Ford’s new factories are being built in low wage countries (with large domestic markets) that will allow them to be exported to the US at profit.

    While they are trying to deal with the UAW, if they can’t they are also planning on working around them.

    I’m thinking it’s a 50/50 odds that Ford will no longer be manufacturing in Canada after the current contract runs out.

  • avatar
    moedaman

    Ford should do now what they should have done when the Chrysler/UAW/VEBA BK plan was announced. Sue under anti-trust laws. This vote gives them better evidence.

  • avatar
    rnc

    However this could have a silver lining and the UAW is opening a can of worms it really doesn’t want to (and perhaps this is what Ford is counting on)

    At some point a large Ford shareholder (or congress) is going to get pissed and sue. I don’t see how legally (and technically the VEBA owns the shares, not the UAW), that the UAW can own shares in one company and represent workers in its competitor. Since the federal courts are packed full of republican appointed judges, if the UAW isn’t really careful, they could find thier contracts and ability to represent with ford thrown out.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    My God.

    I am NO union expert, but couple things.

    1) Why can’t Ford just go around them? There are so many people out there who would gladly take these jobs, at the pay offered, and never go through the UAW.

    2) What is the deal when the UAW leadership doesn’t get the support from the members? Isn’t that how its supposed to work? At what point does the whole system become completely useless (as if it hasn’t already).

    Going beyond that, 3) WHAT ARE THE WORKERS THINKING?! That Ford is somehow rolling in the cash, or that they can put Ford at a competitive disadvantage to every other car company operating in the US and all will come out sunshine? Hello….

    4) Or are they just banking on the fact that if they can put Ford into bankruptcy, they actually come out winners? I mean look at GM and Chrysler. For their parasitic work, they were awarded huge ownership stakes in the company. They get nothing at Ford. Why not achieve parity that way?

    5) In this economy, in this industry, why are they so dissatisfied to be working for arguably the healthiest US company (not saying much) that has some sort of momentum going even versus the Japanese, Koreans, and Germans? Every other person I know is happy just to have a job, and is accepting benefit and hourly pay cuts just to remain employed. And they don’t want to do the same?

    I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I’m not union, so maybe I just don’t understand. But this is straight up B-S. If I were Ford leadership, I would be FURIOUS right now and looking for any angle to crush these mo-fos at the first opportunity I had. I know it can’t be done (quality will slip, etc), but honestly, if I can get the company and UAW leadership to agree and see the light, but the workers refuse, I’d not hesitate one second to put their asses on the street.

    And going forward, I’d be looking to build my cars elsewhere. Enjoy those jobs when they get sent someplace else.

    And people wonder why American companies manufacture overseas. Here’s Exhibit A….

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    UAW = Divorced from reality.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    rnc – There are no new truck factories in Mexico. The only thing Ford is building right now is the B-car plant. They might do a C-car as well.

    Back to subject: Unions as rational entities died long ago. The problem is that most companies also haven’t come up with creative ways of working with these irrational entities. They consider them so repulsive that they don’t actually try and find solutions that might actually benefit everyone long-run. And they don’t rely on mediators to try and bridge gaps.

    Things like basic profit-sharing, stock options, organizing factories so that people actually receive performance bonuses instead of just “I exist” bonuses. Help plants set targets so that workers can set targets and sizes of bonuses follow expected parameters.

    Othe creative options might be cancelling bonuses or parts of bonuses in case of strikes so that the cost of doing so is much higher for the workers. All of this has the potential to be hard to put in place, but could ultimately be much more lucrative for the company and workers.

  • avatar
    SpikedLemon

    Ford’s biggest problem at the bargaining table: they didn’t get bailed out so the union mistakenly eyes them as having cash.

  • avatar
    rnc

    RobertSD :

    If you hadn’t noticed mexico was a seperate paragraph which was not related to new factories section, just pointed out that they do build trucks in Mexico (trucks are kind of important to ford).

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    This should not be a surprise to anyone…..

    Watching GM, ChryCo and the Gov’t this past year has demonstrated beyond a doubt that there is no long term benefit to labor in negotiating anything.

    The government has demonstrated that they will backstop all of the domestic car companies, so where is the benefit to labor in making concessions today?

    Just look at what GM and Chrysler workers actually gave up during the bankruptcy process, on a hourly basis, not very much at all.

    Yes, the union has all its members eggs tied up in the VEBA, however that’s tomorrows problem. If worse comes worse everyone reasonably expects this to be bailed out too.

    Perverse as it sounds, the union has a vested interest to turn little problems, into big problems, as big problems receive outside help, little ones, you got to take car of yourself.

  • avatar
    1169hp

    UAW = Divorced from reality.

    That’s almost an understatement. I have dealt with the UAW, specifically Local 249 out of Kansas City, MO. They represent the workers/plant(s) that make F-series/Escapes etc…

    They are impossible!!!

  • avatar
    Ion

    There’s some sort of legal issues that prevents Ford from firing all those people right? Because if there isn’t I’m fairly certain their are plenty of people in this economy who’ll jump at the chance of a 14.00 per hour minimum wage.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Big Al’s old employer, Boeing, is in a showdown with the IAM union over a 10-year no-strike agreement as you read this. Boeing is sick and tired of the endless string of strikes over the dumbest, most moronic things and is taking a very strong stance: sign the no-strike or the second 787 line will be opened in Charlotte, to be followed by the next generation 737.

    Charlotte, smelling blood, voted the IAM out. Hello Boeing! (They already build a large chunk of the 787.)

    The current IAM members MAY get a few more dimes in their pay envelope but jobs for their kids and grandkids will be gone.

    How do you get through to union members that their union leadership is their worst enemy? If anyone knows how, the people on the shop floor in Everett and Renton Washington could sure use you now.

    Yes a No-Strike is powerful: a strike can cost hundreds of millions if not a billion dollars. At today’s margins, it’s a scorched-earth solution that burns everyone yet the unions pull it out with little thought of the carnage. This has to end, not only at Boeing, but Ford and most other companies.

    Lock the union out until they decide to vote yes.

  • avatar
    bwell

    The locals figure that either Ford gives in to their demands or they strike and drive the company into a bailout by Uncle Sugar.

    Heads I win, tails you lose.

    The wildcard is whether Obama would risk the negatives from a third auto bailout. I doubt that even he wants to own the entire industry. At least not until after the 2010 elections.

  • avatar
    william442

    Anyone who thinks labor unions are beneficial needs to visit Youngstown, Ohio, once the provider of 10% of the iron (steel) production in the US.

  • avatar
    2009Refugee

    On the occasion of the GM and Chrysler bailouts, with the associated trashing of bondholder rights, I believe there was a rationalization that went something like this – “I am giving these companies to the UAW because the UAW has done nothing to deserve this. It was all the fault of evil management.”

    Other comments have picked up on the consequence – Ford has no credible ‘bad’ scenario if concessions aren’t made. Company goes bankrupt? UAW picks up the pieces.

    Here’s another one – some have pointed out that there won’t be jobs for the rank and files’ kids. Remember all those buyouts over the last couple years? People getting over $100k gross to leave? Care to guess how many of those with under 10 years, who decided to leave, had a relative with 20-30 still working?

    So if Ford says “Don’t you want a future for your kids?”, the honest response is “Yeah, thanks for paying his way through Pharmacy school! Sucker! Now gimme gimme gimme or I’ll sick Obama on you!”

  • avatar
    George B

    I’m no fan of the UAW, but wouldn’t Ford be better off if UAW workers agreed to the same cost cutting concessions GM and Chrysler got with the illusion that the UAW could still go on strike against Ford? The UAW using the nuclear option of actually going out on strike right now would probably kill the UAW after a few years. When Chrysler and GM inevitably get liquidated, no Ford = no UAW. It’s too powerful of a weapon to be used just to achieve a better negotiated settlement.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    @rnc:

    They aren’t even building any trucks in Mexico that I know of currently, and they never imported trucks from Mexico. There are International operations down there, but the old truck plant is gone – converted for the Fiesta, diesel engines and transmissions.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    If these guys have jobs and any future at all, they should keep their mouths shut, save some money, and prepare themselves for the day they DON’T have jobs.

    Plenty of people are out on the street right now. Are they right? Probably. But times are tough right now, this is no time for arguments.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    The Claycomo plant is pretty much surplus. DTP can build all the F150s the market will ever again require, and the Kuga (which will probably replace current Escape) will be produced at Louisville.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    Didn’t Gresham state “bad money drives out good”? Well, here you go.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Too many of you are reading with your TTAC glasses on. The UAW leadership IS TRYING to convince the workers to ratify, but looks like they have Wall Street-i-tis …. greed and ignorance. They also haven’t been scared that they could actually loose their jobs like happened at GM and Chrysler.

    “According to The Detroit News, a UAW national Vice President tried to convince workers to accept the deal prior to the vote, but was apparently shouted down by angry employees.”

    By the way, UAW leadership can over-rule an election and accept local contracts. Does anyone know if this is the case with national?

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    No problem. Perhaps shuttering the KC plant would help reduce the overcapacity of plants in the USA anyhow.

    Meanwhile, companies like Hyundai continue to improve product and production and consumers are all to happy to keep buying.

    When gas hits $4.00/gallon again soon, sales of F-150′s will hit the skids. Either way, these dummies in KC can’t seem to get the sand outta their eyes and ears from all the years of having their head buried in it……

  • avatar

    @rocketrodeo:

    The European car *will* be produced at the Wayne, MI plant that formerly produced the Navigator & Expedition. That line went to KTP (Louisville) and was integrated to run with the 250/350 truck line over xmas shutdown in 2008/2009.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    @ pgcooldad: “The UAW leadership IS trying to convince the workers to ratify…”

    Indeed you are correct. A chit to the union on this one.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    So why not shutter a UAW plant and reopen in TN along with VW and Nissan? Open shop rules here. Plenty of people looking for work at $14.00 per hour.

    Saw something called the U-6 stats. We see the U-3 unemployment stats in the mainstream press. The U-6 stats keep counting people even when their unemployment benefits run out among others. Supposedly most like how they counted unemployment in the 30′s. The national rate is about 17%. In the Great Depression the U-6 stats were about 25%!!!!!

    I think this would be a GREAT time to count your blessings and hold on to any well paying job. Have a friend walking away from his $12 per hour job. Unhappy he says. Will live on savings for a while. Has a mortgage. WTF is he thinking???

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    The east coast city that will be getting the new Boeing 787 second assembly line and 737 follow-on plane assembly when the IAM union brain trust craters is Charleston, South Carolina, not Charlotte as I mentioned above.

    This morning’s paper says the union is asking for a full-blown 10-year contract instead of just adding a 10-year no-strike to the current contracts.

    When today’s government spending finally hits, there is going to be an apocalyptic shift in life as we know it in the United States. No thinking company on the face of the earth would sign any kind of a labor agreement with built-in raises extending more than 3-4 years from now.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    If Ford wants the same concessions from their workers as GM and Chrysler workers got, then they should file for C11.

    Seems to me, Ford is getting a bit greedy. *If* Ford was doing as they believe they are, then they should pay their employees as such. Ford employees should not have to take the same concessions as employees from a bankrupt company.

  • avatar
    SpikedLemon

    Ford won’t be able to compete on a level playing field without the union allowing them to get cost of labor down to the same as GM.

  • avatar
    geeber

    joeaverage: So why not shutter a UAW plant and reopen in TN along with VW and Nissan? Open shop rules here. Plenty of people looking for work at $14.00 per hour.

    I believe that closing a union shop and attempting to open a non-union one violates the federal Wagner Act.

    Plus, this sort of move would antagonize the national UAW leadership and completely undermine any leverage that it has with the locals.

    According to the story, it doesn’t appear as though the problem is with the union’s national leadership; it’s with the various locals. The UAW’s national leadership is working WITH Ford’s management to get the concessions.

    Z71_Silvy: If Ford wants the same concessions from their workers as GM and Chrysler workers got, then they should file for C11.

    Wouldn’t it be better for both Ford and its UAW workers to do everything possible to avoid that result? GM and Chrysler may have received federal bailout funds NOW, but if there is a anti-bailout backlash in the 2010 congressional elections, then circumstances for both could change very quickly. At least Ford is still the master of its own fate.


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