September 23, 2012 / 8:28 PM / 5 years ago

Canadian auto workers at Ford ratify labor agreement

The Ford Motor Company's emblem is pictured at the company's factory in Almussafes near Valencia September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Heino Kalis

(Reuters) - Unionized workers at Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) Canadian operations have voted in favor of a four-year labor agreement with the company, the Canadian Auto Workers union and Ford said on Sunday.

Some 82 percent of the Ford workers who voted backed the deal, the CAW said in a statement.

The agreement with Ford was the first deal reached at the Detroit Three companies in this round of talks, and serves as a model for pattern bargaining with General Motors Corp (GM.N) and Fiat SpA’s FIA.MI Chrysler Group LLC.

“Our members at Ford recognize that, in these uncertain economic times, some of the most important elements of a new collective agreement are future investment and improved job security,” CAW national president Ken Lewenza said in a statement.

“This new agreement will ensure that our facilities are well-positioned for a strong future in the North American auto industry,” he said.

The ratification was widely expected although talks leading up to the agreement were tough as Ford, like the other two automakers, insisted that labor costs had to come down.

Following the ratification, Ford said in a statement that it “remains committed to building a strong future in Canada”.

The Ford agreement includes lump-sum bonuses for workers but suspends a cost-of-living adjustment for the first three years, then reintroduces it in June 2016.

Under the agreement, new hires will take longer to reach the highest end of the pay scale, with the “earn-in” period expanded to 10 years from six. They will also start at a lower wage, earning just 60 percent of the highest hourly rate, down from 70 percent previously.

New employees will also have a hybrid pension plan, a mix of a defined benefit and defined contribution plan, the union said. There is no change to the pension plan or eligibility rules for current members.

The CAW reached a tentative agreement with GM last Thursday but talks on a deal continue with Chrysler.

GM ratification meetings for CAW members are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, the union said.

Reporting By Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; editing by Gunna Dickson

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