The union drive was instigated by a group of Ford and Lincoln-Mercury service technicians who were frustrated by reductions in Ford Motor Co.'s reimbursements for warranty repairs. The technicians have been able to reach fellow technicians around the country through their Web site, flatratetech.com. The Web site has been a popular place for Ford and Lincoln-Mercury technicians to share service-related information and address common concerns such as the reduction in pay for warranty repair work.
Mark Ward, a Ford master technician, says the union is the best alternative for technicians who deal with the financial hardship that results from Ford's reduced warranty labor times.
Ward acknowledges that the drive to organize mechanics is a slow process, but he says that once technicians across the country see successful votes, the process will snowball.
"I have three other campaigns that we're getting ready to file petitions on in Michigan, one of them just a couple blocks from Ford's world headquarters, so they are highly motivated," says Ward, who works in the service bays at Eufaula Ford in Eufaula, Okla. Other dealerships in Texas also are targeted.
Management at the two Michigan dealerships did not immediately return phone calls.
Managers at Jackson Ford contended that the unit that would vote on representation must include more than just the 12 service technicians. They asked the National Labor Relations Board to rule that the unit must include the rest of the service department, which consists of three service advisers, a dispatcher, five parts department employees, two body shop employees and two porters. But the board ruled that the 12 service technicians constitute an appropriate bargaining unit and have little to do with the rest of the service department employees.
Ford Motor Co. did not comment for this story, but it has said in the past that any attempt by service technicians to form a union in a dealership is a matter between the dealer and his or her employees.
To schedule a vote in a dealership, the union files a petition with the National Labor Relations Board. The board must certify that at least 30 percent of the mechanics are seeking representation before scheduling a secret ballot election.