United Auto Workers approve new 4-year contract with Ford

The contract will cost Ford $700 million in the fourth quarter, mainly to pay ratification bonuses to its 55,000 hourly workers. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2019

United Auto Workers approve new 4-year contract with Ford

  • Union: 56.3 percent of workers who voted were in favor of the deal
  • The contract will cost Ford $700 million in the fourth quarter

DETROIT: Members of the United Auto Workers union at Ford Motor Co. voted Friday to approve a new contract with the company.
The union said in a statement that 56.3 percent of workers who voted were in favor of the deal.
The four-year agreement reached Oct. 31 gives workers a mix of pay raises and lump-sum payments as well as a $9,000 ratification bonus. The company also promises $6 billion in US factory investments. Ford gets to close an engine factory near Detroit but its 600 workers there will get jobs at a nearby plant.
Acting Union President Rory Gamble called the agreement “life changing” for workers and said it eliminates perpetual temporary employees and different wage tiers for workers doing the same jobs. Ford said the deal increases its competitiveness, keeping its cost structure similar to its US-based competitors. It also secures 8,500 US hourly jobs.
The contract will cost Ford $700 million in the fourth quarter, mainly to pay ratification bonuses to its 55,000 hourly workers.
Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said Friday night he did not have vote totals.
The deal is similar to one ratified by General Motors workers after a bitter 40-day strike this fall.
On Monday, the union will focus bargaining on Fiat Chrysler, the last of the Detroit Three automakers to settle.


Despite agreement, China purchase of US agriculture lags

Updated 10 August 2020

Despite agreement, China purchase of US agriculture lags

  • The two sides are set to meet on Saturday to discuss the deal, American media says

NEW YORK: Seven months after the United States and China signed a preliminary agreement to temper their trade war, Beijing’s purchases of US agricultural goods have yet to reach the deal’s target.

As President Donald Trump readies for a tough reelection battle in November, US media reported the two sides are set to meet beginning August 15 to discuss the deal, which calls for China to sharply increase buying American goods and services this year and next.

But according to data compiled by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Chinese agricultural purchases at the end of June were far from where they should be at this point in the year.

They had reached only 39 percent of their semiannual target, according to US figures, or 48 percent, based on Chinese figures.

“If we get back to what the level of trade was in 2017, we’ll be lucky,” said Chad Bown, a PIIE senior fellow who authored the study, referring to the year before the trade war began.

Under the deal’s terms, China agreed to increase agricultural imports $32 billion over the next 2 years from 2017 levels.

Chinese orders for corn and soybeans have increased since mid-July, with Beijing buying just over 3 million tons of American oilseeds between July 14 and Aug. 7, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

At the end of July, the United States reported the largest-ever daily order by China for its corn, of 1.9 million tons.

The announcements were a relief to US farmers, who are expecting a bumper crop this year and need to find buyers to take it.

They also came at a time of high political tension between the two countries, after the Trump administration authorized sanctions against several Hong Kong leaders over the rights crackdown in the city, and restrictions on Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok.

The Chinese “realize we’re not being the best of buddies right now, but they need the products and they’re gonna take as much as they need,” said Jack Scoville, agricultural market analyst for Price Futures Group.

It’s possible that Beijing will change its orders from buying this year’s harvest to next year’s.

But analysts warn that any orders could be called off before the ships carrying them leave port.

Brazil and Argentina, two of the world’s largest soybean and corn producers, are starting their harvests next spring, said Brian Hoops, president of the brokerage firm Midwest Market Solutions.

China “could cancel all these purchases they made in July and buy at much cheaper prices if that’s available to them,” Hoops said.

The trade deal dubbed “phase one” and signed in January has managed to survive both the tensions and the sharp global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has badly hit international trade.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in June said China would follow through on its commitments, while Washington would also pursue a “phase two” trade deal that “will focus on issues of overcapacity, subsidization, disciplines on China’s state-owned enterprises, and cyber theft.”

Bown said any success in getting China to buy not just farm but also energy and manufactured goods, would aid Trump in his reelection campaign.