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Old 02-22-2005, 07:39   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford, ex-worker at odds over job set-asides

Ford, ex-worker at odds over job set-asides

Fired manager says company forced him to hire unqualified union members.

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Ford Motor Co. and union officials are disputing that an unwritten deal required setting aside 10 percent of hourly jobs for union-picked candidates, a practice alleged in a lawsuit by a former manager who said he was fired for objecting to hiring unqualified workers.

Ford has asked the judge in the case to throw out all or part of a jury's $4.8 million award in October to Stephen B. Himmel, who was labor relations supervisor for more than a decade at the Sharonville transmission plant in suburban Cincinnati.

Himmel, 55, was fired in October 1997, and he sued Ford two years later. He argued the firing was retaliation for his complaints that the nationwide agreement with the United Auto Workers violated federal labor law and resulted in hiring convicted felons and unqualified relatives of union officials.

"I was told to help make the company world-class and I bought into that," Himmel told The Cincinnati Enquirer in a story published Monday. "But the 10 percent forced hires were not in the best interest of the company and the stockholders, because they were deviating from best in class."

The Dearborn, Mich.-based company has not been able to verify if there was such an agreement, spokesman Glenn Ray said Monday.

"Ten percent seems like an ungodly number," said Hal Stack, director of labor studies at Detroit's Wayne State University, who has investigated relationships between the UAW and the auto industry. "I'd heard of that behavior claimed at a plant level, but not at a national level."

The company said Himmel was fired because he violated labor law when he improperly promoted union bargaining representatives to positions that should have been open to all hourly workers. Himmel's attorneys say Ford's arguments were already rejected by federal courts.

Four Ford executives testified at the trial that they did not know of the 10 percent agreement.
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