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Ford, UAW reach tentative 4-year contract agreement

DETROIT (AP)— The United Auto Workers union reached a tentative four-year contract agreement with Ford Motor Co. on Saturday, avoiding the threat of a strike against the struggling automaker, the union said.

The deal, reached around 2:20 a.m., must be ratified by the UAW’s approximately 54,000 members covered by the contract at Ford. If approved, it would bring a close to historic negotiations that have yielded agreements designed to return U.S.-based automakers to profitability.

Details of the agreement were not immediately released, but the deal likely will be similar to those negotiated with General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

Those pacts — which were reached after short strikes against the automakers — include a union-run trust that would take control of the companies’ retiree health care obligations, a lower-tier wage scale for some workers and some job security pledges.

In a statement, Ford confirmed that the deal includes the retiree health care trust fund and said the trust is subject to approval by the courts and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Though we will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement until after it becomes final, we believe it is fair to our employees and retirees, and paves the way for Ford to increase its competitiveness in the United States,” Joe Laymon, Ford’s group vice president for human resources and labor affairs, said in the statement.

Ford is financially the weakest of the Detroit Three automakers, having lost more than $12 billion last year. The company has mortgaged its assets — including its blue oval logo — to fund turnaround efforts.

The deal came after a bargaining session that lasted more than 41 hours inside the automaker’s world headquarters building in Dearborn.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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