Ford makes new offer in US labor dispute, GM furloughs more workers

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) -Ford Motor said on Tuesday it had made a new comprehensive contract offer in an effort to resolve a 19-day old targeted strike by the United Auto Workers but said a dispute over battery plants remained unresolved.

The Dearborn, Michigan automaker said the new offer boosted wages for temporary workers, increased company 401(k) contributions and had further shrunk time needed to get to the top wage rate.

UAW President Shawn Fain on Friday expanded the first-ever simultaneous strike against the Detroit Three to a GM Lansing, Michigan, plant and a Ford Chicago assembly plant, but Stellantis was spared after last-minute concessions.

Ford said Tuesday the UAW “has taken a hard line on battery plants” after CEO Jim Farley accused the UAW of holding the contract “hostage” over the fate of those plants, a charge the union rejected. The UAW says “job security” in the electric vehicle transition remains an open issue.

The UAW declined comment Tuesday on Ford’s new offer.

The UAW said on Monday it presented a new contract offer to General Motors. GM said despite the offer “significant gaps remain.” The UAW also held a new round of bargaining with Chrysler-parent Stellantis Monday.

Earlier Tuesday, GM said it furloughed 163 UAW workers at GM’s Toledo Propulsion Systems plant that makes transmissions for both the automaker’s Missouri and Lansing Delta Township assembly plants that are on strike.

GM said in total it has been forced to lay off 2,100 workers at five plants in four states including halting production at its Kansas car plant because of strike impacts.

On Monday, GM and Ford said they laid off another 500 workers at four Midwestern plants because of the impact of the strike. Stellantis has furloughed nearly 370 workers in Ohio and Indiana.

Anderson Economic Group on Monday estimated total losses from the first two weeks of the strike at $3.9 billion, including $325 million in wages, $1.12 billion in losses for the Detroit Three, $1.29 billion for suppliers and $1.2 billion for dealer and customer losses.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Matthew Lewis and Chris Reese)