Local News

Around 30 Take Latest Ford Buyout Offer

Local United Auto Workers union officials say they were surprised at the number of Ford workers who accepted the company’s latest buyout offer, which ended Friday. It was the fourth such offer from the company since 2006, as they try to reduce their workforce.

Scott Eskridge is the union chairman at the Kentucky Truck Plant. He says the number of people taking the buyouts is falling dramatically.

“We’ve had so many buyouts over the last couple of years, we’ve had roughly 15-hundred people take the buyouts,” says Eskridge. “So the ones that are here now have anywhere from ten to fifteen years seniority, and once you’re that invested, it really hard to try to go anywhere else and start over.”

Eskridge says 13 people out of nearly four-thousand employed at the Kentucky Truck Plant took the latest buyout offer. Another twenty or so took the buyout at the Louisville Assembly Plant, which employs around two-thousand.

That plant (LAP) is slated for re-tooling next year, and will be converted into producing smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Local News

City, Firefighters Approaching Deal

A tentative deal has been struck between Louisville Metro Government and hundreds of firefighters who say they were underpaid millions of dollars in back overtime.

The agreement was reached in mediation Monday between Metro officials and attorneys representing nearly 800 firefighters who say they are owed money for years of miscalculated overtime. Neither side will reveal any details of the agreement, but Mayor Jerry Abramson says he’s optimistic the issue will be resolved soon.

A settlement could cost the cash-strapped city more than 27 million dollars. Abramson says he hasn’t decided where they money will come from, though tapping the nearly 60 million dollar rainy day fund is an option.
“I’m really not in a position to set forth how it will be resolved,” he says. “But I can assure you that the resolution that is pending now before the firefighters will be handled in a financially responsible way by the city.”

The agreement will be presented to firefighters next week. A group of 135 firefighters split off from the original group and is not part of the deal. They are seeking a resolution over money that they say should’ve been paid into pensions

Local News

GE Union To Vote On Wage Freeze This Week

On Wednesday, union workers at General Electric’s Appliance Park plant will vote on a wage freeze.

In exchange for the freeze on 2100 workers’ salaries, GE says it will hire 100 new workers and keep all product manufacturing in Louisville until June 2011, when the workers’ contracts expire.

Union leaders have declined to comment publicly, but GE spokesperson Kim Freeman says the promises of new workers and job security can’t be made without the wage freeze.

“Considering that we lost $72 million last year, it just wouldn’t make good business sense for us to invest in new a product or bring additional employees into Appliance Park because our cost structure is just too high,” she says.

Freeman says union members seem receptive to the idea. The plant’s 2000 salaried workers have been under a pay rate freeze since 2008.

Local News

AFSCME Members Rally For Neighborhood Place Workers

Members of the union that represents some state social workers will rallied in downtown Louisville Thursday.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees organized the demonstration to ask state government to keep social workers in the city’s Neighborhood Place outreach centers.

Union spokesperson David Patterson says the state plans to move the social workers to the L&N Building downtown later this year.

“At a time when people are most in need, I think it’s more important than ever for social workers to be out on the front lines reaching the people who need their help most than being taken out of the community and brought into a large facility,” he says.

Patterson says the plan to move about 170 social workers goes into effect July 1st.

Local News

Ending Jobs Bank Could Hurt Local Economy

When President Bush announced a government loan to General Motors and Chrysler last week, he called for the end of the jobs bank program, which provides benefits and partial wages for laid-off employees.

While Ford is not set to receive aid anytime soon, ending the jobs bank program could hurt former Ford employees in Louisville. Retail researcher John Talmage says ending the program during a restructuring of the Big Three automakers would leave thousands of workers without pay or updated skills.

“The most important thing for a laid-off worker is to find a new job as quickly as possible,” he says. “If the infrastructure that supports sustaining that worker during that unemployment and retraining, retooling and redeploying that worker ends, then, in this economy, it’s going to be very hard to make those kind of matches.”

The United Auto Workers union previously agreed to suspend the jobs bank program to help the struggling automakers.

Local News

Abramson "Disappointed" In Unions

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says he’s disappointed in some city employee unions for rejecting for rejecting cost-cutting measures.

All city workers have been asked to forgo pay raises for the rest of the fiscal year.  At least three of the unions – police, corrections and firefighters, have refused. Firefighters union president Craig Willman says his members won’t comply until they see a detailed account of the city budget.

“I’m sorry that he’s disappointed, but I’m sorry that he won’t allow the citizens of this community to see the books,” he says. “There needs to be some transparency here.”

Willman says if the books show no other way to shore up the $20 million shortfall, his union would be willing to compromise with the Mayor.