Ford workers call for recount

December 27, 2005
Some disgruntled workers at the Ford Motor Co. are calling for a recount of the ratification vote that approved a series of contract changes that will lead to blue-collar workers and retirees paying more fore their healthcare. Last week, the United Auto Workers said that Ford workers had approved a new agreement with the automaker by a narrow 51-percent margin. The margin favoring ratfication was one of the slimmest on a major UAW-Big Three contract in the past 25 years.

Even before the voting started, union officials had predicted a close vote because the changes to the contract are unpopular with both active workers, who will pay slightly higher co-pays on prescription drugs, and with retirees who are now obligated to pay up $752 per year for "in network" health services and up to $1,252 per year if they go outside the network. The changes are expected to save Ford as much as $850 million annually.

The agreement still needs court approval but a similar pact with GM has already been approved by the U.S. District Court in Detroit. In addition, it appears that some workers used the healthcare vote to register an early protest against Ford's turnaround plan that could lead to the elimination of thousands of blue-collar jobs. The plan is due out in January.-- Joseph Szczesny

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