August 22, 2014

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Hourly Ford workers getting bonuses of about $8,300 each

AVON LAKE — Profit-sharing checks of approximately $8,300 will be sent to Ford Motor Co. hourly workers around the nation March 14, including the approximately 1,766 members of the United Auto Workers Local 2000 at the Ohio Assembly Plant.

The checks are in response to the $8 billion in profit Ford’s North American operations earned last year, according to a Tuesday news release from Ford. The $8 billion included $1.7 billion in fourth-quarter earnings, the highest fourth-quarter earnings in a decade. Total revenue was $34.5 billion, up $2.1 billion from 2011.

After the Wall Street crash of 2008 in the midst of the Great Recession, UAW workers made major concessions in 2009, including giving up annual cost of living adjustment increases. Jerome Williams, Local 2000 president, said the rank-and-file workers hope to eventually regain the concessions they made, including the adjustments, if Ford remains profitable.

“We all want Ford to do well, and if they do well, that’s a plus for us,” he said Wednesday.

Mary Springowski, a group leader at the plant, said she’s gotten positive feedback about the checks from workers who she said made, “a great sacrifice” in making concessions. She said workers were proud that, unlike Chrysler and General Motors, Ford avoided taking part in the $80 billion auto bailout by taxpayers. While Ford’s North American operations are profitable — Ford CEO Alan Mulally earned about $29.5 million in total compensation in 2011 — Springowski said workers recognize the global economy is shaky.

Ford’s European operations lost $7.2 billion in revenue last year compared with 2011, and Ford predicts
$2 billion in losses this year.

“The business environment remains uncertain and Ford will continue to monitor the situation in Europe and take further action as necessary,” the release said.

The U.S. is in the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression and the Commerce Department announced Wednesday that the economy shrank in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2009. Nonetheless, Mulally was upbeat in the news release.

“We are well positioned for another strong year in 2013 as we continue our plan to serve customers in all markets around the world with a full family of vehicles,” he said.

Springowski also was optimistic. She said workers at the plant and around the nation make good vehicles and are proud of their work. While scheduled to be phased out next year in exchange for F-650 and F-750 trucks, the Econoline van produced at the plant has traditionally been a big seller. Ford last year announced it was making a $128 mil,lion investment in the plant which includes a $15 million tax break by state taxpayers.

Springowksi said she understands that some people who are hurting economically may resent workers receiving checks, but Local 2000 members have always given back to the community. She said they contribute to local clothing and school supply drives for the needy and volunteer with nonprofit groups like Habitat for Humanity.

“We acknowledge that we are very fortunate to have the jobs and benefits we do, and this membership has always stepped up,” she said.

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