DETROIT -- About 140 Ford Motor Co. engineers hope to join the UAW union because of the automaker's moves to cut benefits for salaried employees, sources familiar with the situation said Monday.
They cited low salaries, expensive medical plans and the elimination of overtime pay for the unionization drive by engineers at Ford's vehicle operations center in Allen Park, Mich.
"They have taken a lot away from us, both in benefits and pay," one Ford engineer told Reuters.
"They have changed our medical benefits, increased co-pay and deductibles. They have also taken away all overtime pay," said the engineer, who asked not to be identified.
Like its crosstown rivals, Ford has cut salaried jobs and benefits in recent years to counter falling market share and profitability. Since September 2003, the second-largest U.S. automaker also has eliminated overtime pay for certain salaried workers.
About 650 salaried workers at Ford are represented by the UAW, according to Ford spokeswoman Lydia Cisaruk. She declined further comment.
The Allen Park engineers have already petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to join the UAW. Ballots on the issue are expected to be cast in early September.
Overall, the UAW represents about 100,000 salaried workers at automakers and other companies across the country. The Detroit union, which had 1.5 million members in 1979, had just 624,585 at the end of last year.
By joining the union, the benefits of salaried workers are better protected, said Sean McAlinden, an economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.