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Bargaining When the Future of an Industry Is at Stake: Lessons from UAW–Ford Collective Bargaining Negotiations

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The 2007 American automobile industry labor negotiations involved fundamental challenges for labor and management, including a historic shift of responsibility in the management of retiree health care, a need for new approaches to core employment security issues, identification of ways to create new unionized jobs in the industry, and a joint commitment to the competitive viability of U.S. operations. Less visible, but no less important in the United Auto Workers–Ford case, has been unprecedented levels of information sharing and unique innovations in the bargaining process designed to enable problem solving even when tough issues were on the table. More than 300 people were directly involved in the negotiations, serving at the main table and on twenty-four subcommittees. This case study covers the context for the negotiations, key events leading up to the bargaining, a unique process of “bargaining over how to bargain,” the actual negotiation process, and the results achieved. Implications are generalizable to the broader concept of pattern bargaining and many other types of negotiations when transformation is on the table.
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Keywords: Ford Motor Company; United Auto Workers; auto industry; collective bargaining; interest-based bargaining; labor; management; negotiations process; pattern bargaining; quality; subcommittees; transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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