The United Auto Workers and General Motors are close to finalizing a new contract, following the first contract negotiations to take place between the two since GM was rescued by the Obama administration. But the UAW is still working on a deal with Ford, the only one of Detroit’s big three companies to turn down government aid.
Ford has had nine profitable quarters in a row, and paid its CEO, Alan Mulally, $26.5 million last year. But at the same time, it is fighting against giving its factory workers their fair share of the profits from the company’s success:
At The Rouge, Ford’s massive, 94-year-old factory complex in Dearborn, Mich., there’s talk along the assembly lines of winning back raises and bonuses lost when the company was near financial collapse in 2007. Workers, who assemble F-150 pickup trucks at the site, are upset that Ford is trying to cut labor costs, especially after nine straight profitable quarters and a $26.5 million pay package for CEO Alan Mulally.
When the company was going to fail, the workers “gave up cost-of-living pay raises, performance bonuses and other benefits.” Last year, Ford reinstated merit pay and some bonuses to the company’s salaried, white-collar workers, but has yet to do so for its hourly-wage factory workers.
“We have the big honchos taking multimillion-dollar bonuses and they can’t even give us back” concessions, said Joe Pack, 50, who works at Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Michigan. “Ford has to do a lot more,” agreed Gary Walkowicz, who works at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant.
In 2010, CEO pay across the corporate world went up 27 percent, while worker pay went up just 2 percent. Ford’s continued profitability would not have been possible without its workforce, and the company should be sure to recognize that fact during contract negotiations.
This post originally appeared in ThinkProgress on September 28, 2011. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Pat Garofalo is Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Pat’s work has also appeared in The Nation, U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian, the Washington Examiner, and In These Times. He has been a guest on MSNBC and Al-Jazeera television, as well as many radio shows. Pat graduated from Brandeis University, where he was the editor-in-chief of The Brandeis Hoot, Brandeis’ community newspaper, and worked for the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life.