Louisville Ford workers reject proposed UAW contract - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Ford workers reject proposed UAW contract

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Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in eastern Jefferson County Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in eastern Jefferson County
UAW workers voted Tuesday, Nov. 17, in Louisville UAW workers voted Tuesday, Nov. 17, in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- United Auto Workers members in Louisville overwhelmingly rejected  a nationally negotiated 4-year labor contract with Ford Motor Co. by a 2-to-1 margin on Tuesday.

Sixty-six percent of the 7,405 ballots cast by production and skilled trades workers at Ford's two plants -- Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road and Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane -- were against the contract, according to figures obtained by WDRB.

Other Ford locals around the country are voting on the contract through Friday, and the Louisville results do not bode well for its approval.

But the UAW still hopes that a majority of the its nearly 53,000 members will vote in favor of the contract, UAW chief negotiator Jimmy Settles said Wednesday at a news conference in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Earlier this year, UAW members at Fiat-Chrysler plants overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract, then voted in a favor of a second, renegotiated deal after the UAW and Ford went back to the table.

The UAW's recently negotiated contract with General Motors was approved by production employees by a 55-percent margin, but the smaller contingent of skilled trades workers at GM plants rejected the contract, prompting UAW leaders to have "further discussions" with GM.

The proposed Ford contract includes a number of wage increases, inflation adjustments, profit-sharing payments and a one-time $8,500 signing bonus for all UAW members. Ford also proposes to make a $1,500-per-worker profit-sharing payment early, for a total of $10,000 paid immediately after the contract is ratified.

The deal also includes a "new path" to veteran UAW wages of $28 an hour or more for Ford's second-tier workers, who were hired after October 2011 and currently earn about $16 to $20 an hour.

But some veteran workers said the contract does nothing for them.

"I hate it," said UAW member Roxanne Upshaw. "I don't think they did anything for legacy employees. I'm a legacy employee and I don't think they gave us anything back except one holiday, so I am voting no."

Meanwhile, a lower-tier worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said under the current contract, he would likely be converted to the veteran wage scale faster than under the new agreement.

Officials at the UAW International headquarters in Detroit would not answer questions about the contract.

In an interview Wednesday, UAW 862 President Todd Dunn declined to talk about workers' objections to the contract.

"There’s a very diverse cross-section of issues that was discussed...I couldn’t give you one," he said.

Ford issued a statement saying the company “respect(s) the UAW’s communication and ratification process and will have more details to share once the process is complete.”

UAW members also were not persuaded by a promise of $1.3 billion in additional investments in Ford's Louisville plants.

Ford had said that, if workers approve the contract, it would make $700 million in upgrades at Louisville Assembly Plant, where the Escape and Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicles are made.

Kentucky Truck Plant, where Ford makes Super Duty pickup trucks, the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, was slated for $600 million in upgrades.

The company also said it would add or retain 8,500 jobs in the coming years, though it's unclear which plants would get the jobs.


Ford plans $1.3 billion in Louisville plant upgrades as part of new UAW contract

UAW and Ford reach tentative agreement on new contract

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