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Deadline Passes at Ford With No Contract Agreement

September 15, 1993

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ A midnight deadline for the expiration of Ford Motor Co.’s three-year contract with the United Auto Workers passed Tuesday with no new agreement and no strike.

Ford workers on the midnight shift were told to report for work Wednesday, apparently under an extension of the old contract, although there was was no official announcement.

Walter Whittemore, president of Local 737 at Ford’s glass plant in Nashville, Tenn., said union officials called and ″said that the midnight shift should go in and go to work and they’d call me back later and tell me what to do.″

The contract reached at Ford will be used as the pattern for the rest of the auto industry. The UAW has 241,000 members at General Motors Corp. and 67,000 at Chrysler Corp. Talks with GM and Chrysler were suspended pending the outcome of the Ford talks.

UAW President Owen Bieber and Vice President Ernie Lofton met with the union’s international executive board at a hotel earlier Tuesday evening. Neither official would comment on the talks. The board typically meets to review the pattern agreement reached with the lead company in the talks.

Ford spokesman Dave Caplan said meetings between senior Ford officials and UAW executives were under way about 12:30 a.m. But he gave no details.

The UAW extended its agreements with GM for three days during talks in 1990 and for about a day at Ford in 1987.

Bieber said earlier Tuesday that ″all kinds of problems ... major problems″ stood between the union and Ford. The union leader told reporters Tuesday morning he thought a settlement could be reached but ″it’s going to take a lot of tough, hard work to make it.″

A strike against Ford had been authorized, but union leaders said they would be willing to continue negotiating after the three-year contract expired if progress was being made.

A local official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday afternoon that the biggest obstacle to a settlement was Ford’s resistance to limiting outsourcing - contracting with outside suppliers for parts and services that the UAW says is within its jurisdiction. Tied to that was Ford’s use of outside contractors to perform work inside Ford plants.

The other key issues, according the UAW official, were Ford’s insistence that hourly workers pay more for their health care benefits, and the length of the contract.

Ford has asked for a longer contract than the current three-year deal signed in 1990. Discussion of a six-year contract contributed to the delay, said a union local official in close contact with a UAW national bargainer.

The Ford-UAW negotiations began on June 24.

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