DEARBORN, MICH., OCT. 7 -- The United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor Co. reached a tentative national labor contract today that closely follows an agreement reached last month with General Motors Corp.
UAW and Ford officials said the tentative three-year agreement mirrored the contract reached Sept. 17 with GM and ratified a week ago by GM workers. There were a few exceptions, however, including a two-week maintenance shutdown at Ford manufacturing plants in July.
After ratification by Ford workers, a process expected to be completed by Oct. 21, the union will begin negotiations with Chrysler Corp.
The most contentious issue in the UAW-Ford talks was a provision calling for penalties of up to $5 an hour for scheduling excessive overtime. Ford makes more liberal use of overtime than does GM or Chrysler.
The overtime penalty, which increases in value as the number of scheduled overtime hours increases, doesn't appear to be a problem in the near future because car and truck sales are down and any economic recovery doesn't seem to be near, Ford Chairman Harold Poling said.
The agreement also calls for income guarantees for laid off workers. GM has promised to spend up to $4 billion to protect the income of its laid off workers. At Ford, with a much smaller work force, that commitment would be $1.5 billion.
The union has scheduled a meeting of its 135-member Ford bargaining council for Tuesday in Dearborn. The panel of union local presidents and bargaining committee officials must approve the tentative agreement before it is sent to the UAW's 44 Ford locals in 79 locations for ratification.
The UAW-GM agreement was ratified a week ago in an 80 percent to 20 percent vote.
About 100,000 Ford employees are covered by the UAW national contract. GM has about 300,000 workers represented by the union and Chrysler Corp., which still must bargain a national agreement, has about 63,000 hourly and salaried UAW members.