Jun 8, 2009
Ford CEO Alan Mulally says that he expects Ford workers to give up even more concessions, on top of the concessions Ford took just three months ago. Mulally now wants the UAW to match the concessions the union just gave to GM and Chrysler, which were even more outrageous than the Ford concessions.
At GM and Chrysler, retirees’ dental and vision coverage will be eliminated July 1, VEBA funding was cut further, all new hires were allowed to be low wage. Most importantly, the UAW leadership agreed to give up the union’s right to strike in 2011 and to let an arbitrator bring down wages and benefits even further.
Certainly Ford wants to take every concession they can get from the workers. And the top UAW leaders have demonstrated their willingness to agree to the concessions that the auto companies and the government have been demanding.
But they have a problem: Ford workers did not quietly accept the last set of concessions. In some plants where workers organized against the concessions, the contract re-opener was voted down. Overall the Ford contract was passed by only a reported 59% to 41%, and the real vote was certainly closer than that.
Ford and the UAW leaders understand they may have a problem trying to get the Ford workers to accept more concessions. When Ford complains that the government’s role in the GM and Chrysler concessions gives those companies an advantage over Ford, it means Ford wants the government to try to help force more concessions on the Ford workers.
But Ford workers, who showed an opposition to concessions this year and also in 2005, will be the ones to have something to say about that. And if Ford workers, or any other group of workers, takes a stand against concessions, it would open up possibilities for the working class to start to turn back all these demands for sacrifice.