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Fascism and Big Business by Daniel Guerin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Missouri: UAW, Ford settle during strike vote

BY DAVID ROSENFELD
DES MOINES, Iowa, November 15—Workers at Ford Motor Company’s Kansas City, Missouri, Assembly Plant were in the midst of voting to authorize a strike when company officials announced they had reached an agreement with officials of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
Preliminary results showed overwhelming support for the authorization to call a strike at the facility, which employs 3,500 workers. No details of the settlement were available.

The strike authorization vote came in response to rising anger and frustration with speedup and unsafe working conditions in the plant. Ford management had recently implemented what they euphemistically called a “rebalancing” of the workforce to improve plant efficiency.

Plant worker Mike Gorski told KMBC News just what that meant. “They're cutting jobs out on the line and wanting that work [to be done] by other people … and you’re just nonstop running. You don’t have time, like I said, you don’t have time to get a drink of water or scratch your nose. You’re just constantly running.”

“I voted yes to authorize a strike for us,” union member Moses Key told Fox 4 News. “I think the company is not treating us fairly and so it’s time. I think we’ve given up enough concessions.”

The strike authorization vote came less that two weeks after Ford workers nationally rejected a concessions contract by a wide margin. Seventy percent of production workers and 75 percent of those in skilled trades voted no. Ninety-two percent of workers at the Kansas City plant voted the concessions down.

According to UAW Local 249 president Jeff Wright, the company filed more than 200 disciplinary reports against workers in the weeks leading up to the vote on the concessions.

Company and UAW officials had touted the concessions as necessary to keep Ford competitive with General Motors and Chrysler. The concessions rejected included a wage freeze for new hires, a ban on strikes over wages and benefits until 2015, job combinations, and more leeway for management to move workers around. Workers would have received a $1,000 bonus in March 2010.

As voting on the contract was finishing up, Ford posted a third quarter profit of $997 million.