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Ford eyes deep U.S. blue-collar job cuts


Reuters / August 01, 2003



DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. hopes to eliminate about 21,000 jobs or 20 percent of its blue-collar work force over the life of a new collective bargaining agreement with the United Auto Workers union, sources familiar with the company's plans said this week.

When it unveiled a multiyear turnaround plan to recover from a deepening financial crisis in January last year, the world's second largest automaker said it planned to cut about 12,000 hourly jobs, nearly all represented by the UAW.

But sources close to the company said it was now looking at shrinking even further its blue-collar ranks, which include workers at its former auto parts subsidiary Visteon Corp. Ford hopes to cut roughly 5 percent a year over the duration of a four-year contract with the UAW.

The cuts would be achieved through attrition -- meaning that Ford would not replace workers as they quit or retire -- and the company's total blue-collar work force would be cut to about 73,000 employees from 94,000, the sources said.

Anne Marie Gattari, a Ford spokeswoman, declined to comment on the nature of any planned cutback, which could complicate the contract talks that Ford and other Detroit automakers opened with the UAW two weeks ago.

But Ford's plan would be bolstered by the fact that the company has a large number of factory workers who are at or near completing 30 years of service with the automaker, when they will be eligible for retirement.

At Ford's assembly plant in Lorain, Ohio, for example, almost one-third of the work force is eligible for retirement.

Though Ford's push to cut jobs through attrition could represent a major challenge for the UAW, which has been hurt by the loss of more than half its membership since 1979, it is not without precedent.

The union allowed General Motors to use attrition to scale back its work force repeatedly in contracts over the past decade, and more than 17,000 factory jobs were eliminated at GM alone under terms of the current UAW contract with little or no protest from the union's leadership.

The UAW negotiated one of the richest contracts in U.S. labor history in 1999, at a time when GM, Ford and the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler were all coming off record profits.

But those profits have long since vanished, and many analysts and labor experts believe the UAW will endorse major cost-cutting efforts at Ford and its cross-town rivals as a trade-off for keeping generous health care and retirement benefits.

At Ford, in particular, company officials have said the UAW will have to lift a four-year ban on U.S. plant closings so it can proceed with its restructuring plan by eliminating excess production capacity.
 

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This is so depressing,.... I work at the stlouis assembly plant (which is schedule to close) and it sad to hear about all these layoffs! I guess soon we'll all just have to move to japan or china as they are the ones getting all our work thanks to the people buying the imports! I hope those people have jobs in a few years,.... NO I DONT!
 

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Actually, more and more companies are moving assembly plants INTO the US. Toyota, BMW, etc.

The difference is, none of these companies will deal with the UAW. They put the factory down south were there is no UAW presence.

Some Auto parts suppliers will actually pack up the whole factory and move it to a new location when the unions start knocking on the door. Thats the sad part.

The jobs will come back. It will take some time though. Eventually the unions and companies will be able to work together to keep the jobs and let the company stay healthy.
 

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ACTUALLY, you have no idea what you're talking about...

So, lets say I'm a foreign automaker. I already know that MI, OH, and the rest of the Northeast and Mid-west is controlled by the UAW. But I don't want to pay UAW wages. Hey! Guess what? There are literally thousands of out of work uneducated textile mill workers, dirt farmers, and desperately poor unskilled potential laborers in the south.
Uh-oh, here comes the UAW. What to do? Well all I have to tell the local people and governments is that I won't build my plant if they try to unionize. No plant, no jobs. No jobs, no taxes. No taxes, no pre-k. And so on.
I'll offer pay within shooting distance of a UAW wage; a top pay of say $17-18 per hour instead of $25, which by the way is still twice or even three times more than they've ever dreamed of making. And with that kind of money I won't even have to offer a bunch of expensive health care coverage.
I'll throw some anti-union full page ads in the local paper, pass out some flyers and sit back and wait. Hey, maybe I can even play the old North/South card. YEAH! We hate them Yankees telling us what to do. Except for Georgia and a couple other exceptions, there is no real union presence to worry about counteracting. (Remember the horribly failed Nissan conversion? We are still stinging from that...)
But thank god they're so damned ignorant that they'll never know what real money is. Wheh! That was close...

If it wasn't for the UAW I might STILL be making $5 a day. Gee, thanks Mr. Ford!
 

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Sry, no sympathy here...

I still do make five bucks an hour, copy editing for professors. Tedious, thankless job, lots of prereqs, plenty of skill required.

I do my fair share of manual labor as well. Making bout half to one fourth of union workers and damned proud of it. IF i could find a bumper sticker that said 'scab' it would sit there right next to my darwin-fish-eating-icthoos thingy.
 

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I AM union,... And do make $25.oo an hour and its nice but when you think about high up ford officials or lets say some sports guy making millions of dollars a year, Our little $45,000-$50,000 a year job doesnt look that good now! I love my job and I would love to paint cars for a living,... no matter what auto company! I may even do it for less money! BUT!!! You need people not that just want to have a good paying job but people that want to build Quality cars! Ford needs to respect the workers who are making them a living! LOOK at it like this!,... Ford has millions of money! They may act like they dont but they are allways spending millions on stuff,... and if we( the union ) were costing them so much money how could they afford all of the stupid stuff they spend their money on! Ford , GM, and CHRYSLER would not be hurting to this day if people would stop buying these import cars! look at the shoe companies and all,... Take a little kid who makes a couple of dollars a day let him make shoes and sell them for $100.oo TELL ME THE BIG MAN IS NOT SITTING ON A BIG FAT BANK while his little helpers are slaving for enough money to buy NOTHING,..NOT EVEN THE SHOES HE MAKES! I guess some would turn down a raise when your boss tells you hes giving you one! Just tell him you would rather have the boss own the nice house and give his kids some nice things while you sit in you two bedroom house with your children eating peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches,...telling your kids santas not coming because there is no money for gifts and all! WHATEVER!!!!!!!!!!! Do you think that if ford gets rid of the union, they would lower the price of the autos or do you think they would just shove that money in their pockets!?! THE UAW IS GOOD AND EVEN THOUGH IT MIGHT HAVE ITS BAD SIDES,...BUT not every one can be doctors and lawyers! I drive through new neihborhoods wishing I could afford one KNOWING I CANT! GO AMERICA,GO UAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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ummm exactly go america...

read your post again, compare it to Karl Marx.

I'm all about the worker getting his due. I"m just saying I dont' agree with unions. I never even factored in cost of cars in my statement. I"m just saying there are other skilled laborers out there who are getting paid dirt.

If you're a car painter, and good at what you do, you can make a friggin crapload, without being in a union. You think an 80000 dollar paint job has anywhere near that in materials put in?

Lingenfelter more or less just puts engines together, so does sean hyland. BOth charge craploads for their stuff.

I UNDERSTAND what it means to be poor. I wish i made 25 an hour. In a few years, when I"m a resident, you know, an MD, but not a full-fledged doctor, i'll be doing the bulk of hte work at the hospital, seeing patients, pulling night duty at the ER, etc. But i'd be lucky to make 25 an hour. If i were to become a college professor (10 years of school for god's sake), again, in many fields I'd be lucky to make 25 an hour. YOu get what I"m saying?

I'm the son of a doctor and aprofessor, but our volvo s40 (which we paid 19k for) was 'too expensive' for me to drive when i was in HS. dont whine about money, please. especially if you're making 25 an hour.
 

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I am NOT crying about money,( as I did say I would do it for less money) BUT I am crying about US AMERICANS needing jobs! It makes me so angry for a company to expect high sales and when they dont sell its a loss! You dont lose what you never had! but instead they will close plants and cut thousands of jobs to make up for the sales that they "THOUGHT" they were make! Like I said I agree the union does have some bad things that go about it but all in all its good! If you have never worked on an assembly line You dont know how hard it is even though most people think its just abunch of dumb people easy work for to much money!!!
 

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i never denied that UAW workers work hard, i just said that others also work hard, without 25 bucks an hour. ANd yes i agree abotu american jobs, but honestly, unions are what chased them out of the country in the first place. IF you want, i think we should continue any discussion bout unions in OT...respect Biker's space
 
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