Ford workers at three plants vote down concessions image

Ford Motor Co. workers at three factories with more than 5,600 employees rejected concessions that the United Auto Workers granted to the carmaker’s U.S. competitors, union officials said.

Workers casting ballots at a Livonia, Michigan, transmission plant voted 52 percent against the accord yesterday, while 92 percent of union voters rejected the deal at the Ford Escape factory in Claycomo, Missouri. Members at a Plymouth, Michigan, parts factory voted it down on Oct. 23, a person familiar with the results said.

“It’s just a very difficult time and the concessions we gave in February were still fresh in people’s minds,” said UAW Local 182 President Steve Zimmerla, who endorsed the latest deal at the Livonia plant with 1,690 hourly workers. “The fact that we weren’t promised any additional work also weighed heavy on the membership.”

Ford, the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy, seeks concessions as U.S. industry sales have fallen every month except August since 2007. UAW Vice President Bob King visited the Claycomo plant near Kansas City yesterday to promote the accord calling for a six-year ban on strikes over wages and benefits and a pay freeze for new hires, according to Gary Walkowicz, a UAW Local 600 official in Dearborn, Michigan.

“This is a significant challenge for Ford,” Gary Chaison, who teaches industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, said in an interview. “Workers may feel like they have little to lose if they reject it, because even if they accept it, their jobs aren’t certain.”

Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

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