Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ford Contract and the Ford St. Paul Twin Cities Assembly Plant

Betrayal by U.A.W. leadership; betrayal by the MN DFL

-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki [mailto:amaki000@centurytel.net]

Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 1:43 AM

To: 'Charles Underwood'

Cc: 'David Shove'

Subject: Interesting article; for being such a "done deal" the sad saga of the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant continues on... as does the class struggle to save this plant and the dam

“The summary also says that Ford will not sell or close any plants beyond three facilities that already have been identified — Twin Cities Assembly in St. Paul, Minn., and Cleveland Casting and Batavia Transmission in Ohio.
But the union was able to win one-year extensions for Twin Cities and Cleveland casting.”

This raises an important question: Can a struggle for public ownership waged by workers, the local community, and state and local governments save the plant and create even more jobs?

What will it take? First, a citizen’s committee needs to be established to counter the efforts of the Ford Site Planning Committee. Ford rank and file workers need to be brought into the struggle along with community activists and concerned citizens. Letters to the editors, leaflets, door-to-door work, meeting around kitchen tables and in coffee shops; meetings with state and local politicians in their offices.

Since the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party refuses to take up this struggle other political allies should be sought. We need to find out the positions of Mike Cavlan and Cynthia McKinney on the Ford Plant issue. This should become a national and international issue. There shouldn’t be any organization or individuals we don’t reach out to.

We also need to get the issue of public ownership of the Ford Plant and dam as a primary issue in DFL precinct caucuses… all caucus participants should be made aware of the Senate Committee betrayal on this issue… we need a general purpose leaflet that can be taken into each precinct caucus with the same resolution to be voted on. Press releases citing this campaign need to be developed.

We don’t need to beg the DFL or any other Party to take up this issue… what we need to do is develop a well coordinated state-wide campaign on this issue… since we don’t have the resources to campaign statewide on this issue alone, we should combine and bundle this issue as part of a “progressive package” that takes in other issues ranging from ending the war in Iraq, preventing war with Iran, single-payer/universal health care, rights for casino workers, a real living wage tied to the figures of the U.S. Department of Labor, an end to home foreclosures, an end to the robbery at the pumps and global warming.

We need to end all procrastinating on this issue… since efforts to make saving the Ford Plant and dam a single issue as would be most effective… the only way we can mount a successful campaign is to bundle this issue with other issues and present Minnesotans with a clear example of what we expect progressive politicians to support. We should urge Minnesotans not to vote for any candidate who won’t sign on to the entire package… this is the only way for working people to flex their political muscle. We should make a list of what candidates not to vote for.

Distributing a couple hundred thousand leaflets of this nature in the weeks leading up to the 2008 Elections can have a big impact… too darn bad who suffers.

In pushing for this kind of bundled program inside and outside the Democratic Party we move progressive politics in a new direction. It is these issues… not the Party, not the individual politician; we should be seeking to frame these issues with real solutions. If those claiming to be progressive can’t support such a progressive agenda, it is time to say we aren’t going to support them.

Of course there is always the option of supporting alternatives to the two Party system by taking initiatives like Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, and Mike Cavlan have done. A multi choice electoral system based upon real issues aimed at improving the life of working people is what needs to be considered… not who is the “lesser evil.” The “danger from the right” perspective has now become a pathetic excuse for failing to take the class struggle into the political arena.

We should start with calling for the defeat of each and every member of the Senate Committee who refused to vote for the legislation aimed at saving the Ford Plant and Dam beginning with the Chair of the Committee James P. Metzen who had sole responsibility in pushing this legislation through his Committee. It is simply shameful that the media did not provide coverage of how this DFL betrayal of all working people in Minnesota went down. Metzen needs to be punished at the polls. Get out your Legislative Manuals… check out Senate District 39… lets run a candidate/s committed to a “bundled” progressive platform in the DFL primary, the Republican Primary and have someone ready to run on the Green Party ticket and as an independent and even as a write-in candidate if need be. We have options, let’s show we progressives aren’t afraid to exercise those options.

The time has come for working people to be completely active in the decision making process… and this doesn’t mean just voting for those candidates selected by a few well-heeled political hacks committed only to the business interests of the Summit Hill Club, the DFL Business Caucus, and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.

Life has demonstrated that the closing and demolition of the St. Paul Ford Assembly Plant and selling off the hydro dam to a foreign corporation while politicians pathetically and with demagoguery call for “an end to foreign domination of energy resources” as they allow a hydro plant to be taken over by a foreign multi-national energy corporation which will then turn around and gouge the very tax-payers who have subsidized this hydro generating facility for over 80 years just like the robbery at the pumps is allowed to go unchecked by the Democratic Party.

Again, we need a “bundled” progressive agenda… either politicians support it or they don’t. Given the very tight and close races it becomes very easy to defeat candidates by campaigning against them… and, these politicians will have to consider whether or not they are going to spend big money only to be defeated by a few cheap leaflets.

“Minnesota nice” just doesn’t cut it… it sure hasn’t saved the Ford Plant and dam.

Related News

• Ford agrees to halt plant closures in union contract
AFP - 4 hours ago

• Ford Warns of New Steps if Sales Decline
New York Times - 4 hours ago

• Ford Workers to Vote on Tentative Pact
The Associated Press - 4 hours ago

UAW Leaders Recommend Ford Contract

By TOM KRISHER and DEE-ANN DURBIN – 7 hours ago

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Local union presidents and bargaining chairs have unanimously voted to recommend approval of a tentative four-year contract between Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers, a union local official said Monday.

Bruce Yates, bargaining chairman at Local 2000 at an assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, said the deal was recommended by a voice vote.

A summary of the contract posted on the union's Web site shows that the Ford contract is similar to deals ratified by workers at General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

Ford will contribute $13.2 billion to a union-run trust that will pick up much of the company's $22 billion in retiree health care liabilities. The company also will pay $2.2 billion for retiree health care until the trust takes effect in January 2010.

A typical UAW worker at Ford will get $12,904 worth of economic gains over the life of the contract, including a $3,000 signing bonus and lump-sum payments of 3 percent in the second year, 4 percent in the third year and 3 percent in the fourth year, according to the summary.

GM workers won similar bonuses with total gains of $13,056, while Chrysler workers are to receive $10,235.

The summary also said that the UAW won commitments from the company to build five new flexible body shops at assembly plants, as well as a $200 million commitment to invest in new technology and equipment at stamping plants and substantial investments at Ford powertrain operations.

The summary also says that Ford will not sell or close any plants beyond three facilities that already have been identified — Twin Cities Assembly in St. Paul, Minn., and Cleveland Casting and Batavia Transmission in Ohio.

But the union was able to win one-year extensions for Twin Cities and Cleveland casting.

Another key provision of the contract gives the UAW a voice in future Ford product and manufacturing decisions. Bob King, UAW vice president and director of its Ford department, will serve on the company's Manufacturing Operating Committee "where critical decisions are made about current operations and future product," the summary says.

After explaining the deal to the local union officials, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger called the contract a "great agreement," and said no layoffs are expected at Ford.

"At this time we don't anticipate any additional cuts," he said.

About 54,000 UAW members at Ford will vote on the historic pact beginning Wednesday, with some workers skeptical of its job security guarantees in light of layoffs that Chrysler announced shortly after workers there ratified a new contract with the company. Voting is scheduled to be completed the following Monday.

Ford had announced plans to shut down 16 North American factories as part of a restructuring. The company has identified only 10 of the closures, and two of the remaining six to be shuttered were to be assembly plants. But no further closings will take place during the contract, which expires in 2011, the summary said.
Industry analysts have speculated that five U.S. Ford assembly plants were among those in danger of being part of the two closed by the company.

Added investment in the U.S. plants is contingent on the company and union agreeing on local deals to make or keep the plants competitive with Japanese rivals, two people with knowledge of the deal said. The people asked not to be identified because the contract has not been ratified by the union.

In exchange for the investments, Ford will be allowed to pay lower wages to thousands of new hires. New hires for entry level jobs will be paid a starting rate of $14.20 per hour. Such jobs can be up to 20 percent of Ford's UAW work force, according to the summary.

The two-tier wage scale is similar to provisions already agreed to in contracts with GM and Chrysler.

Ford has said the deal allows it to move its estimated $22 billion in retiree health care obligations to a union-run trust. The company did not say how much it will have to contribute to the trust. GM and Chrysler have similar agreements in their contracts.

Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, would not comment on specifics of the deal, but at a meeting with reporters Monday to preview new vehicles, said it is fair to all parties.

He would not say if any layoffs would quickly follow ratification of the deal like those at Chrysler and GM, but said Ford would adjust its factory capacity to make sure it meets market demand.

Ford is financially the weakest of the Detroit Three automakers, having lost more than $12 billion last year. The company has mortgaged its assets — including its blue oval logo — to fund turnaround efforts and has been rapidly losing overall U.S. market share, from 26 percent in the early 1990s to about 15 percent this year. It is using less than 80 percent of its U.S. plant capacity.

Tom Krisher reported from Detroit.

Source: Associated Press

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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