The United Automobile Workers and the Ford Motor Company will now try to do what General Motors Corporation and the union failed to do - put together a labor contract to reduce the company's labor costs and save workers' jobs, writes Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend.
GM was the union's primary target, and for a time a breakthrough seemed likely on a plan to link savings from concessions by workers to reductions in auto prices.
The two sides were still far apart when a deadline for an early settlement was reached Jan. 28. Both said the other demanded too much, and both sides expressed disappointment.
UAW's Douglas A. Fraser said that the breakdown of talks with GM ''means there will be more layoffs. Things are going to be worse than they otherwise would have been.''
GM quickly announced rebates of from $500 to $2,000 on certain car models for the next 60 days in an effort to meet foreign competition and increase sluggish new car sales.
There may be no further contract talks between the two until July, the traditional time for the opening of auto talks. But if UAW-Ford negotiations are successful, GM and the union may get back to the bargaining table earlier.
There is more optimism about a UAW-Ford pact with the GM talks suspended. Ford spokesman Jerry Sloan said, ''This leaves the door open for serious negotiations. If they had reached an agreement with GM, UAW would have used it as a pattern with us. . . .''
Ford refused initially to go along with GM in linking union concessions and car-price reductions on a dollar-for-dollar basis. But because Ford is in worse financial shape than than GM, there appears to be much more rank-and-file support for a settlement with Ford in the talks opening today (Feb. 1.)