The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Concessions at Ford:
A Rotten Deal

Jan 2, 2006

The following articles appeared in a newsletter regularly appearing at Ford’s Rouge complex. This issue appeared in the week before the vote by Ford workers on the contract concessions agreed to by the UAW leadership.

Telling half the union to screw the other half

The union leadership has decided to break the contract with the retirees, and they want us to vote to cover for their dirty deal. They won’t let retirees vote! They want to hide their deal behind the votes of regular workers.

It’s a filthy plan they are trying to get away with. Telling one part of the union to screw the other part!

If they get away with breaking the retirees’ contract, it won’t stop there. They will break anyone’s contract, any time they want.

Retirees ALREADY paid

UAW leaders and Ford say that active workers have to kick in more than $1 an hour and more than $2000 in COLA to pay for retirees. It’s fraud.

When the retirees were working, parts of their wages were held back to go to their retirement programs. Ford already got their money. It’s there in their cash reserves. Now they want active workers to pay it all over again!

Once is enough!

Workers foot the whole bill

The new VEBA fund for retiree health care would get all of workers’ wage and COLA deductions. Ford would contribute only 108 million dollars spread over six years, plus Stock Appreciation rights, IF Ford stock goes up.

That means Ford’s contribution to this new plan would be next to nothing, compared to workers’ deductions.

The cash Ford is supposed to contribute to the fund amounts to 18 million dollars a year. Peanuts! Less than a peanut! Considering there are 87,000 active workers, this amounts to $207 per worker per year.

What will a worker pay? Each worker will pay about 52 x 40 = $2080 per year, plus a dollar for every hour of overtime, plus an average of $364 COLA per year. That adds up to at least $2444 per year.

Ford pays $207, we pay $2444. And workers are supposed to approve THAT??

SAVE JOBS? Just the Opposite!

Before the ink was dry on the GM contract, GM announced plant closings and layoffs. Ford is saying it wants this contract signed, sealed and delivered, BEFORE Christmas, and then will announce layoffs and plant closings in January.

Been There, Done That–Ask Steel Workers

Ask any co-worker who has come from Rouge Steel. Ford started coming for take-aways from them since 1980. Not once. Not twice. They kept coming and coming. And 23 years later, we found our ranks went from 5,000 to 500, and having to work another 10 years just to have health care.

We’re All in This Together

There has been some talk that younger workers don’t understand the seriousness of these attacks.

Understand–we are all in this together. This concessions contract is an attack on all workers, retired and active, young and not so young. What else do you call it when they are taking our money and our health care!

What’s the big hurry?

Why the quickie vote? Everyone’s mind is on Christmas and getting out of here for a while.

If they are hurrying to a vote now, it’s because they want to get the rotten deal over with, quick, before we notice how bad it really smells.

Under these circumstances workers are left with no choice but to vote NO. If you aren’t allowed time to read the small print, it’s suicide to sign it.

When it’s wrong, it’s wrong

Immediately after the Ford-UAW cuts against hourly workers were announced, Ford announced it was going to reduce salaried workers’ pay raises and benefits.

In other words, they are trying to point out salaried workers’ cuts, as if that makes hourly cuts okay. Since when do two wrongs make a right?

Union Letter is Company Propaganda

The letter from Gettelfinger and Bantom in the UAW Ford Highlights is misleading.

They talk about Ford’s market share going down–Ford didn’t lose market share. It gave it away. It decided to concentrate on high end cars, trucks and SUVs because it makes a much higher profit on these vehicles.

They talk about Ford’s pre-tax losses in its North American operations. They forgot to mention that financial analysts predict Ford will make between 2.5 and 3 billion dollars in profits this year.

They forgot to mention Ford’s 37 billion dollars in cash and marketable securities.