By David Barkholz, Automotive News
Detroit, Michigan -- The UAW is trying to get Ford Motor Co. to bring seat production back in-house as a sweetener to a concessionary tentative labour agreement reached last week.
Ford's Rawsonville parts plant near Ypsilanti, Michigan, was mentioned for seat production in a contract summary obtained by Automotive News.
Ford and the UAW declined to comment. Neither organisation will talk publicly about the contract until the nearly 42 000 UAW-represented workers at Ford have an opportunity to vote on it. The UAW has set a 9March deadline for completing voting.
More than a decade ago, the Detroit 3 moved seat production to parts suppliers such as Lear Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc. The latest agreement opens the door to reversing that outsourcing.
Lou Salvatore, senior vice president for seating at Lear, said the factors that led to that outsourcing have not changed. He said Lear can offer lower costs and top quality and bring design innovations from around the world because it works with virtually every global car manufacturer. All three factors "are more valid than ever," he said.
Salvatore declined to speak specifically about the seat provision in the Ford-UAW contract. Ford is the first of the Detroit 3 to complete an accord with the UAW to lower labour costs to the level of Japanese counterparts in the United States.
Ford persuaded the UAW to cut cost-of-living allowances and bonuses, streamline work rules and limit supplemental unemployment benefits. The UAW also agreed to accept Ford equity instead of cash for up to half of the $13 billion Ford owes to a UAW-administered retiree health care trust.
The seat provision is one of the few sweeteners to make the contract more palatable to workers, said auto analyst Dave Cole.
Said Cole: "There has to be some carrots to sell this to the membership."