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UAW, Ford may clash over concessions

Now that two of the Big Three automakers have survived bankruptcy and returned to profitability, the United Auto Workers say they want the concessions they made to help that process paid back in the next union contracts — with Ford in particular.

Ford did not join General Motors and Chrysler in bankruptcy, but autoworkers still made significant concessions in pay and benefits to the company to help them survive difficult times. And after two years of large profits and major bonuses to executives, the UAW says it’s time to restore those cuts:

As the UAW prepares to head into labor talks this summer with the newly profitable Detroit automakers, several top union leaders say a showdown is brewing over this year’s contract — especially at Ford, which has made $9.3 billion over the past two years.

“If they don’t restore everything (we) gave up, the membership is going to knock it down,” said Bill Johnson, plant chairman for UAW Local 900, which represents workers at the Focus plant in Wayne. “The bonuses that were just announced are just ridiculous.”

The accumulated pay package for Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, who is credited with rescuing Ford after arriving in 2006, is now valued at more than $300 million.

The current UAW contract with Ford expires in September and 1,200 delegates from the union are meeting this week in Detroit to plan their negotiating strategy for the new contract. The company is obviously going to want to keep labor costs as low as possible to help them compete with other carmakers.

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