Expected to follow the pattern of the United Auto Workers contracts already negotiated with General Motors and Chrysler, Ford Motor Company is proposing annual bonuses for UAW workers as part of its pay proposal, replacing the current profit-sharing plan. 
In this respect, the Ford offer differs from that of the other companies. But Ford reportedly wants bigger concessions from the UAW over the “jobs bank” than the other companies, and to make a smaller contribution to set up an employee VEBA to take over retiree health care liabilities. Ford is also expected to be negotiating a new round of employee buyouts to get rid of the 7,500 workers at Visteon which it was required to take back in an earlier bailout of that company. Visteon had been a Ford owned division, which was spun off by the company, much as Delphi had been spun off by GM. 
Labor experts view Ford as situated differently than Ford. It is said that the Ford labor force is younger than that at GM and that it faces significantly lower retiree health care liabilities. The company is also viewed as much more cash-strapped than GM. 
The proposed bonuses would be based on profitability, cost efficiency, market share, and quality. The idea is an extension of a current Ford program which paid bonuses of about $500 each in 2006, despite the company’s massive $12.6 billion loss that year.
Ford and the union have not yet set a date for the beginning of formal negotiations, though informal talks have been ongoing for some time. Bill Ford, Jr., chairman of the company, has previously said that Ford could “live with” a contract that followed the GM pattern and UAW president Ron Gettelfinger has said he wants all automaker contracts to follow the same pattern as the GM contract.
Ford currently has six factories at which it has temporarily suspended production to reduce vehicle inventory.

Source: Detroit News

Ralph Kalal
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