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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Ford Union Workers Ratify Changes to Retiree Health Benefits

United Auto Worker employees of Ford have ratified changes to their retiree health-benefits package to save costs at the troubled automaker.

The deal, as reported last month in The Post, was ratified today by 59 percent of UAW production workers and 58 percent of skilled-trade workers. It had been approved last month by union leaders and Ford management.

The deal would allow Ford to pay as much as half of its $13.2 billion obligation to retirees with stock rather than cash.

Ford is the first U.S. automaker to strike such a deal with the UAW, which may provide a template for GM and Chrysler to follow.

The key word here is "may:" Ford is considered by many analysts to be the healthiest of the Big Three Detroit automakers, meaning its stock may rebound quicker and farther than GM's and hence be a better deal for Ford's UAW workers. (Shares of both Ford and GM stock are trading under $2 per share.)

As a privately owned company, Chrysler does not issue stock.

“We are facing an unprecedented loss of sales and revenue at Ford,” UAW vice president Bob King, who directs the union’s Ford Department, said in a statement. “Our bargaining committee made an extraordinary effort to negotiate changes in a responsible way that will help Ford be competitive, while still protecting our active and retired members."

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  March 9, 2009; 3:13 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, UAW  
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