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October 26, 2009

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UAW blasts opponents of union's deal with Ford

OPPONENTS of a deal between the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co are spreading misinformation as they campaign against the contract, the union's president said over the weekend.

In an interview with The Associated Press, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said he is pushing the deal because it preserves jobs with product guarantees for several vehicle assembly plants and helps ensure that Ford will be competitive and become profitable in the future.

The deal, if approved by Ford's 41,000 UAW members in voting during the next two weeks, brings Ford close to labor cost parity with General Motors Co and Chrysler Group LLC, both of which got deep concessions from the union as they headed into bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Many of the opponents, including some elected leaders at Ford's pickup truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, have urged workers to vote against the agreement, saying it would require too many concessions and would limit the workers' right to strike. Opponents say Ford is profitable yet is asking for more concessions, and that it is time to take a stand against the company.

Gettelfinger said on Saturday that opponents are telling workers that the UAW is giving up its right to strike in the next round of contract talks in 2011 - a charge Gettelfinger says is untrue.

"The Ford members retain the right to strike on every issue except improvements in wages and benefits," he said. "Those in opposition to this agreement are using that as an issue."

If a dispute arises over wage and benefit increases, it would go to binding arbitration, Gettelfinger said. The union still has the right to strike over wage and benefit cuts, work rules, safety or other issues, he said, adding that the Chrysler and GM deals include a no-strike clause.

The Ford deal preserves at least 7,000 union jobs with commitments from Ford to build new vehicles at several factories, including those in Michigan and Kentucky, Gettelfinger said.


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