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Union Presents Ford Demands

July 30, 1987

DETROIT (AP) _ United Auto Workers union negotiators presented Ford Motor Co. Thursday with a concrete list of contract demands that included keeping employment at its current level and increasing wages.

Unlike UAW negotiators at General Motors Corp., who on Wednesday released more than a hundred pages of documents listing the union’s bargaining goals, neither the union nor Ford released the demands presented Thursday.

But at least in the beginning, the demands at both companies tend to be similar because the UAW practices pattern bargaining - working toward reaching similar agreements with all of the Big Three automakers.

Among the GM goals was a guarantee that the UAW workforce there will not shrink from its current size regardless of whether factories are closed.

A similar demand for a guaranteed number of jobs was presented Thursday to Ford, as well as one to halt the moving of work outside the union - even to non-UAW plants within the company’s U.S. operations, according to Frank Miccolis, president of Local 228 in Sterling Heights, Mich., and one of 14 rank-and-file Ford negotiators.

The union also demanded a continuation of a moratorium won in 1984 on all plant closings at Ford.

Miccolis said he believed the union faced tougher bargaining for a guaranteed level of employment than for wage increases.

″They can’t plead poverty,″ he said. Ford, the world’s most profitable automaker, earned a record $3.3 billion in 1986 and nearly matched those profits in the first half of 1987. Its bulging cash reserves contain about $9 billion.

GM earned $2.9 billion in 1986 and its earnings in the first half of 1987 were lower than a year ago.

Contract talks were in their third day Thursday at Ford, where the UAW represents 104,000 workers, and in their fourth day at General Motors Corp., which has 335,000 UAW workers.

Both contracts expire at midnight Sept. 14. Chrysler Corp.’s UAW contract expires next year.

In GM bargaining Thursday, the world’s largest automaker began a presentation scheduled to wind up Friday, said GM spokesman Howard Erickson.

″We have problems. (GM chief negotiator Alfred) Warren is making presentations on areas that General Motors perceives as competitive disadvantages,″ Erickson said.

After the company finishes its presentation, negotiators at GM will split off next week into subcommittees ″seeking common solutions″ to problems, Erickson said.

There will be no specific demands on either side, he said. Neither the union nor GM described the company’s presentation further on Thursday.

Among the well-publicized problems GM faces are the highest production costs in the U.S. auto industry, declining sales, unused factory capacity and high parts-making costs.

GM makes 70 percent of its own parts, while Ford makes about 50 percent and Chrysle makes about 30 percent. In today’s global auto market, it often is cheaper to buy parts from non-union or overseas sources than to make them at an auto company’s U.S. factories.

GM also plans to close all or part of 16 plants by 1990, which could cost more than 30,000 UAW workers’ jobs. Negotiators at Ford also will begin working in subcommittees next week, said UAW spokesman Karl Mantyla.

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