Micheline Maynard: Well, under the terms of the UAW contract, no one actually is fired. Under the contract, auto companies have to keep their plants “idle” until the end of the contract. In this case it will expire in the fall of 2007. So they can’t actually shut everything down, close the doors, and sell the property. They actually have to negotiate a plant closing in the national contract talks.
So while people are laid off from these idle plants, they’ll actually receive about 90% of their pay and they’ll get full benefits. So it’s actually very favorable coverage.
NPR: Does that apply to all the employees in these plants?
MM: Well, it does not apply to the salaried employees. Once the plant is closed, unless there’s another job inside Ford, the salaried employees essentially, just either can retire or they lose their jobs completely.
NPR: But for the employees on the line, they essentially will keep drawing a paycheck even though they are not working.
MM: That’s right.
NPR: How much do these employees earn?
MM: They earn about $27 an hour in straight pay. They also get cost of living allowances. And then if you fold the cost of their benefits in on top, it’s about $67 a worker.
NPR: And they would earn about 90% of that while in idle status?
MM: They would earn about 90% of that, so that would roughly be $55 to $60 an hour.
NPR: So it sounds like if you just read the headline on this story, “30,000 Jobs Cut By Ford,” you don’t get the whole story.
MM: You don’t.