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UAW posts strike pay policy for Chicago Explorer, Taurus plant workers

The end of the current Ford-UAW contract expires at 11:59pm tonight and although there has been no official word of a coming strike, the UAW Local in charge of the Chicago Assembly Plant where the Ford Explorer, Taurus and Lincoln MKS are built has posted the strike-time pay policies on their website – showing that a strike could be nearing as Ford’s labor contract expires.

UAW Local Ford workers all over the country voted in favor of striking earlier this month with a resounding 97% vote in favor of walking out. These votes to go on strike don’t assure a strike, but it shows that the workers are in support of a strike if their conditions (demands) are not met. In this case, those demands relate to the fact that their current contract with Ford Motor Company expires at 11:59pm tonight. That deadline is just over 12 hours away and reports indicate that an agreement will likely NOT be reached before the end of the day. However, Ford President of the America’s Mark Fields expects that the current agreement will be extended beyond today as the two groups work to negotiate a new contract.

UAW Local 551 represents the 2,600+ hourly union workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, which recently saw a new shift added to handle the increased demand with the popular new Ford Explorer. This second shift brought in a large group of new union workers and according to a Local 551 representative, the strike pay and benefits information posted on their official website were added to help those new employees – as opposed to them union posting these policies as a sort of scare tactic directed towards Ford Motor Company. In either case, it shows that the UAW is fully locked and loaded to go on strike if Ford doesn’t pick up the pace with the current contract negotiations. Local 551 is the only group who has posted the strike pay and benefits but with the Taurus, MKS and Explorer being among Ford Motor Company’s bestselling vehicles, these workers walking out could be a major hit to the current momentum held by Ford and Lincoln.

The current sticking point is the fact that the UAW wants raises up front, increased entry level wages and annual cost of living increases while Ford (and the other American automakers) would prefer to go away from standard annual raises, instead offering hefty performance bonuses when the company does well – which is has been of late. This means that in the immediate future, the bonus-over-raise plan would benefit the workers but if things go south, this plan would benefit the Motor Company as they wouldn’t have to give raises (or bonuses) in years where the company is not doing so well.

As this piece goes live, the end of the current Ford-UAW is about 13 hours away so the next day could bring about some interesting developments in the current strike talks. TorqueNews will continue covering this topic, bringing you any news as it becomes available.

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