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UAW turns to Ford after sealing new labor deal with GM

That leaves Fiat Chrysler as the union's final automaker to bargain with.

Ford-UAW labor contract negotiations
Time will tell how the UAW and Ford hash out a deal.

The United Auto Workers union and General Motors can rest easy for another four years after both sides came to a labor agreement on Friday. Now, it's Ford's turn with the union.

Following ratification of the new UAW-GM contract, UAW President Gary Jones said the union selected Ford as its next target automaker. The union will work closely with UAW Vice President Rory Gamble, who also serves as director of the UAW Ford department.

Ford will be quick to point out it employs more UAW-represented workers than either GM or FCA, and that it builds more of its vehicles locally in the US than any other automaker. According to the automaker, it also not only fulfilled, but exceeded its 2015 labor contract requirements to invest $9 billion in the US to create or retain 8,500 jobs.

With that in mind, the UAW's bargaining fight may not be so much in securing more US vehicle production, but perhaps negotiating a contract that increases worker compensation. UAW-Ford workers have likely already seen or read all the details in the UAW-GM agreement, which includes wage increases and no cap to profit-sharing bonuses.

However, Ford is acutely aware new-vehicle sales have begun to plateau in the US and highlighted the fact in documents surrounding the 2019 contract negotiations. In particular, one statement stands out: "Ford must be ready for the next downturn, whenever it comes."

As automakers prepare for a potential sales downturn, investments in electric cars and self-driving technology will likely continue flowing. The belt tightening, as they say, has to come somewhere, and Ford additionally points out that it spends $11 more on hourly labor costs than foreign automakers producing vehicles in the US.

The UAW and Ford previously agreed to extend the previous labor contract while the union negotiated with GM and carried out its 40-day strike. UAW-FCA workers also continue to operate under a contract extension.

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