September 17, 2014

Elyria
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Local UAW OKs Ford deal in a landslide

AVON LAKE — A new contract was overwhelmingly ratified by members of the United Auto Workers Local 2000.

The members, who work at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant, voted 999 to 346 in favor of the four-year pact, a 74 percent to 26 percent margin, according to Tim Rowe, Local 2000 chairman. The vote mirrored national support for the contract by the rank and file. At least 63 percent of UAW workers voted to ratify by Tuesday night, according the Detroit Free Press.

The pact calls for creating 5,750 jobs and investing $16 billion, including $6.3 billion to retool and upgrade plants.

That includes $128 million for the Avon Lake plant, which employs about 1,766 hourly workers, and moving production of medium-sized trucks and motor home chassis there from Mexico. The vehicles would replace the Econoline vans produced in Avon Lake and are scheduled to be phased out in 2014.

“We understand in these economic times we’re not going to get everything we want,” said Rowe, a Ford worker and UAW member since 1973. “I’m very proud of my membership.”

The investment and product line transfer were major selling points pitched by UAW national negotiators who spoke to workers on Sunday at Lorain High School where Rowe said about 1,000 Local 2000 workers voted. The rest voted Tuesday at the plant at 650 Miller Road.

Workers there expressed concerns about competing with foreign car companies who employ low-wage, non-union workers like in South Korea and about selling cars in China which critics say manipulates its currency to restrict imports while maximizing exports.

The deal continues the two-tiered wage system in which new employees make about half of what older workers make, but starting wages increase from $15.50 per hour to $19.28 by the end of the contract. There are no annual cost of living adjustments which were frozen in the 2009 concessions, but there are $6,000 lump sum payments upon ratification for workers with a year or more of service and $5,000 payments for those with less than one year of service. The deal also includes $1,500 annual “inflation protection” payments.

“Both sides are coming together,” Rowe said. “We’re working things out.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.