The UAW negotiated some terms with DaimlerChrysler, GM and
Delphi Automotive Systems that experts say could have applied to
Ford and Visteon. The contracts included promises from the
companies that they would not spin off, sell or close any division
The contract for Delphi workers mirrors GM's deal; it also
allows Delphi employees to transfer back to GM and retire by Jan. 1
with a GM pension. Other terms include a $1,350 signing bonus,
improved pensions and better cost-of-living adjustments.
The UAW had set a strike deadline of midnight Friday with Ford,
a first in negotiations this year and a sign of pressure in what
had been billed as a close relationship.
The last national strike by the UAW against Ford occurred in
1976; it was also the last time the UAW struck during negotiations.
A local union in Atlanta struck Ford in 1986. The UAW has not held
a national strike in years, but has held several local strikes at
GM, including a 54-day strike at two Flint plants last summer that
shut down most of the company's North American production.
With no work stoppages and bulked-up production at truck and
sport utility vehicle plants, Ford made $6.6 billion in 1998; the
average worker's profit sharing payment was $6,100.
Workers at Ford plants in St. Louis, Claycomo, Mo., Flat Rock,
Mich., and St. Paul, Minn., marked the passing of a strike deadline
at midnight Friday by walking off their jobs. But the UAW said it
did not authorize the work stoppage, and the workers at the two
plants scheduled for production today returned to work.
Larry Senyard, treasurer of Local 325 in St. Louis, said the
walkout was temporary and designed to be "kind of like a wake-up
call" to Ford.
Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of
California-Berkeley, said Ford apparently underestimated how
strongly the UAW felt about its issues, especially Visteon. During
a Labor Day parade in Detroit, UAW workers carried signs depicting
Visteon as "the alien within" -- an orange monster busting out of
the Ford logo.
"I think the pressure of a walkout has been necessary to settle
it," he said. "In the past, the relationship has been painted
significantly rosier than it was."
GM and Delphi workers are expected to complete voting on the new
contract by next week.