After months of negotiations, Ford and local union officials said they have reached a tentative contract agreement, averting the possibility of a strike at the Claycomo plant, which turns out the company’s best-selling F-150 truck.
“I think we have reached an agreement that our members will be proud of,” United Auto Workers Local 249 bargaining chair Todd Hillyard said in a posting on the union’s Facebook page late Friday night. “We protected all of our members’ seniority rights, improved safety provisions, along with many other things.”
The union had given Ford notice that a walkout limited to the Claycomo plant could have begun at noon Sunday unless an agreement was reached.
A spokeswoman for Ford said in a written statement that operations at the Claycomo plant would continue as scheduled.
“Working with our UAW partners, we have resolved the open items … and have agreed to a tentative local agreement,” the Ford statement said.
About 7,500 people work at the plant, and any strike would have had a major ripple effect on the Kansas City area economy, as well as hurt Ford production. According to the union, the negotiations had involved health and safety, staffing and seniority rights issues that had not been resolved despite talks that began in April.
The tentative agreement for Claycomo’s workers comes in the midst of continuing national talks between the UAW and the Big Three U.S. automakers. Local talks about plant-specific issues typically occur along with national negotiations. Local UAW members at the General Motors Fairfax plant also are in contract discussions.
At the national level, the UAW said Thursday that its members had rejected by a 65 percent majority a proposed four-year contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that union leaders had recommended. The UAW had chosen to lead its national negotiations this year with Fiat Chrysler.
The national team also is working on separate four-year contract deals with Ford and General Motors.
Big issues remain in all the talks, especially concerning the two-tier wage levels that were introduced to bring in new workers at lower pay scales than existing union workers. The automakers used the lower wages as a means to help claw out of the deep recession.