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Old 09-02-2004, 08:22   #1 (permalink)
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US:Engineers at Ford unit vote for UAW

Engineers at Ford unit vote for UAW

Nearly 60 percent at automaker's vehicle operations center agree to join union

By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News

A group of salaried engineers at Ford Motor Co.’s vehicle operations center in Allen Park voted Wednesday to join the United Auto Workers union.

Nearly 60 percent of the 153 Ford employees who cast ballots voted for union representation, the union said. The vote followed months of long work days for which the engineers were not paid overtime, according to workers who supported the union drive.

Ford responded to the concerns by rescinding changes to its overtime policies — effective Wednesday — but the move was not enough to convince the engineers to reject the union.

Ultimately, overtime was not the key issue, said Jim Knott, one of the engineers who helped lead the UAW’s organizing effort.

“This was about respect,” he said.

The union victory comes five weeks after an unsuccessful UAW attempt to organize Visteon Corp. engineers in Milan. The elimination of overtime pay sparked that membership drive. Visteon later reinstated overtime for salaried engineers at the Milan factory.

The membership drive at Ford was initiated by employees, not the union, who claim engineers at the automaker’s Allen Park site need protection from management practices.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said the National Labor Relations Board, which conducted Wednesday’s vote, allows both sides seven days to lodge objections about balloting.

“We’re going to follow that process,” Evans said.

If the results stand, 182 workers will be included in the UAW’s newest Ford bargaining unit. Ford has about 650 salaried employees who are union members on its payrolls.

The vote at Ford mirrors a growing trend sparked by a 2000 strike by 15,000 engineers at aerospace giant Boeing Co.p., said labor relations con******t John Simmons.

“White-collar workers have become more outspoken since the Boeing strike,” said Simmons, president of Chicago-based Strategic Learning Initiatives.

Among Detroit automakers, DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group has the largest contingent of salaried UAW members with more than 5,000. General Motors Corp. employs about 240.
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