UPDATE 2-GM, Ford to ask UAW for new lower-pay tier in U.S. -Bloomberg

Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:59am EDT
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(Adds Ford comment)

March 24 (Reuters) - U.S. automakers General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co are considering asking the United Auto Workers union to create a new tier of lower-paid union workers in their U.S. factories, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The UAW currently has a two-tier wage system, that includes top-paid $28-an-hour assembly workers and the lower-paid second tier, whose wages top out at $19.28.

The automakers would be pushing forth for a third tier wage system for certain lower-skilled jobs, Bloomberg said. (bloom.bg/1ImHJBP)

"For the 2015 negotiations, we're open to discussing many different solutions with our UAW partners that will allow us to continue to employ a competitive labor rate and add U.S. jobs and investment," Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski said in a statement.

Ford's hourly labor costs were $57, just behind GM's at $58. FCA's U.S. workers averaged $48 per hour.

A new pay rate for lower-skilled jobs would help the automakers bring down labor costs as they compete with Asian and European rivals that pay less at non-union U.S. plants, the report said.

GM and Ford have much higher labor costs than their cross-town rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, according to a study released just ahead of a meeting of United Auto Workers officials as they prepare for contract talks with the Detroit Three.

GM's U.S. auto workers on average earn about 21 percent more in wages and benefits than their counterparts at Fiat Chrysler, reflecting the much higher percentage of lower-paid, entry-level workers at FCA, according to a study of 2014 labor costs by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

"We aren't going to comment on potential topics in upcoming negotiations... we are committed to working with our UAW partners on solutions that will benefit employees and improve GM's competitiveness," GM spokeswoman Katie McBride said in an email.

UAW could not be reached outside business hours. (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera and Anjali Rao Koppala in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Anupama Dwivedi)