While contract negotiations are obviously not over until signed and executed by all parties involved, it appears - at least for now - that Ford and the United Auto Workers union are making headway in their talks.
The discussions, which began in late July for all three major domestic automakers, are "...ahead of the pace that we [Ford and the UAW] have had historically," said Jimmy Settles, head negotiator between the UAW and Ford, according to The Detroit Free Press.
Settles explained that while there are still things to be covered and many details to be hashed out, the overall progress seems to be moving along well. UAW president, Bob King, and Settles jointly announced Tuesday that the UAW officials will hold a strike authorization vote - standard procedure for the four-year contract negotiation process.
Ford is the only automaker out of General Motors, Chrysler and itself that could face a strike by the UAW, as the special terms laid out by the Obama administration during the bailout of the other two automakers forbid strikes.
In regards to possible hurdles still in the way, there is a grievance filed by 35,000 of Ford's 40,600 hourly workers in regards to merit-based pay raises and 401(k) matching that was reinstated in 2010 for salaried workers, but not for hourly workers.
Settles said that the UAW hopes to reach an agreement regarding that grievance during direct talks with Ford, otherwise the subject will head to third-party mediation where the UAW will have no control over the decision.
It is expected that the largest hurdle of them all, however, could fall on the subject of a new profit sharing system that would give greater potential for increased pay for all UAW workers.
1.'UAW: Negotiations...' view