By Nick Bunkley, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Nov. 13, 2015) — United Auto Workers (UAW) union leaders approved a tentative labor contract with Ford Motor Co. on Nov. 9 that could lead to most car production leaving the U.S. by the end of the decade.
Ford's 53,000 hourly workers will begin voting on the deal this week.
The agreement closely mirrors the UAW's contract with General Motors Co., which was approved by a majority of workers but is being held up by opposition from skilled-trade employees. Wage and benefit changes are mostly identical, though Ford workers would get a ratification bonus of $8,500, or $500 more than GM workers were offered.
The union said Ford agreed to invest $9 billion during the next four years, creating or keeping 8,500 jobs. A chart the UAW distributed to its members Nov. 9 shows that unidentified new vehicles would be added at assembly plants in Chicago; Wayne, Mich., and Avon Lake, Ohio, in addition to those previously announced.
Production of four U.S.-built cars — the C-Max, Focus, Fusion and Taurus — would last only through current product lifecycles. Ford also builds the Fusion at a plant in Mexico, and production of the Focus and C-Max is expected to go to Mexico. The Taurus could be discontinued or built only in a low-cost country such as China.
At that point, the Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental would be the only cars staying in the U.S. The Continental is scheduled to join the Mustang in Flat Rock, Mich., in 2016.