DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. and the UAW said they reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday on a new four-year labour pact that covers the automaker's roughly 55,000 hourly unionized employees.
The proposed deal includes more than $6 billion (all figures in USD) in investment and would create or retain more than 8,500 jobs, the UAW said. Union leaders from Ford plants around the U.S. will meet on Friday in Detroit to review the deal, according to a union spokesman. They will decide whether to recommend it to the membership for ratification.
"Our national negotiators elected by their local unions have voted unanimously to recommend to the UAW-Ford National Council the proposed tentative agreement," UAW-Ford Vice President Rory Gamble said in a statement. "Our negotiating team worked diligently during the General Motors strike to maintain productive negotiations with Ford. The pattern bargaining strategy has been a very effective approach for UAW and its members to secure economic gains around salary, benefits and secured over $6 billion in major product investments in American facilities, creating and retaining over 8,500 jobs for our communities."
The UAW's main-table negotiations with Ford wrapped up after just three days, compared to its contentious back-and-forth with GM during a 40-day national strike that sapped $3 billion from the company's profits. The talks were marked by public comments from both sides accusing the other of stalling and playing games.
Ford executives have long touted the automaker’s strong relationship with the UAW. During the handshake ceremony to officially kick off talks in July, Executive Chairman Bill Ford thanked the union, vowing to “never forget” what it did to help the automaker avoid bankruptcy during the Great Recession.
The tentative deal’s jobs number matches what the union won in its 2015 contract with Ford, but the investment called for this year is is $3 billion less.
Ford’s deal is likely to mirror the pact between the UAW and GM due to the union’s pattern bargaining approach.
Ford is in the midst of a new product blitz, adding nameplates and redesigning roughly 75 per cent of its lineup by the end of next year. But the union’s chances to win new product in the U.S. could be slim; Ford already builds more than 80 per cent of its vehicles in the U.S., according to LMC Automotive.
The automaker entered negotiations determined to lower its health care costs, saying it would top $1 billion annually for the first time next year. GM, however, did not bargain for any health care concessions, making it more difficult for Ford and FCA to reign in costs.