By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Ford and the UAW say jobs are at the heart of their new tentative agreement.

“It doesn’t mean anything if we get a five dollar an hour pay increase and then had five thousand more people laid off, because we didn’t get the product and investment,” said UAW President Bob King. “So the foundation has been built on plenty of product and investment.”

Ford says the deal will creat 5700 new jobs. The UAW says it will mean new shifts at Michigan Assembly in Wayne, and Auto Alliance in Flat Rock. There will also be new investments in a number of facilities, including Dearborn Truck.

“One of the areas we really concentrated on was jobs,” said Ford Vice President of Labor Relations Marty Mulloy. Ford and the UAW say many of those jobs are being brought back from China and Mexico.

Like the GM deal, the only raises will be for lower paid “second tier” workers. Other workers will get a signing bonus of $6000, plus $1500 a year for the next three years. Profit sharing was also enhanced.

The agreement, which was worked out after eight days of intense talks, and one overnight session, was approved overwhelmingly by the UAW’s Ford Council. It must still be ratified by Ford workers, a process that should take about two weeks.

“We’re really pleased with this tentitive agreement,” said Ford Vice President of Manufacturing John Flemming. “We really believe that it’s fair to our employees and recognizes the contribution that they’ve made to the success for Ford Motor Company.”

The agreement includes $16 billion in U.S. investments – including $6.2 billion for Ford plants in the U.S. – all to design, engineer and produce more new and upgraded vehicles and components by 2015.

The deal is expected to be sweeter for workers than the contract approved by factory employees at General Motors Co. last week. The agreement also is expected to bring down Ford’s hourly labor costs, which are the highest in the U.S. auto industry.

Jobs, investment and product guarantees in the tentative agreement include (according to a statement by the UAW):

• Flat Rock, Mich., second source for the next generation Fusion and next-generation Mustang.
• Kansas City, Mo., in-source Transit Commercial Van from Europe.
• Louisville, Ky., new unnamed vehicle in addition to 2012 Escape.
• Wayne, Mich., in-source C-Max from Europe in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.
• Avon Lake, Ohio, in-source medium truck and frame assembly from Mexico, along with in-source Motorhome Chassis.

In addition to the assembly plants receiving new and in-sourced vehicles, three other assembly plants will receive substantial investment.  Ten engine and transmission plants will receive investment, along with three stamping plants. A complete list of plant investment can be found on the UAW’s website.

“UAW members sacrificed when the company was struggling, and this agreement ensures that our members will now share in Ford’s prosperity,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, in a statement.

“While new jobs, investment and new products for our plants are the most important components of a secure future for our members, we were also able to make important gains in both income and benefits in this tentative agreement,” Settles said.

The pact still must be approved by Ford’s 41,000 UAW members in voting that will start next week. Approval could be a problem because many expected the company to restore pay raises and other benefits they sacrificed to help Ford through tough financial times starting in 2007.

Talks between the union, Ford and GM went fairly smoothly this year, with Ford settling a month ahead of the last contract reached in 2007. Four years ago, Ford and the union didn’t reach agreement until Nov. 3.

The UAW says it’s turning to Chrysler immediatly, and hopes to get a deal soon. King says most of the subcommitte work is over.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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