The UAW-Ford Continuous Improvement/Total Cost Department is a joint program that works together at every level to improve the business metrics while also improving work relationships, team effectiveness, job security, and quality of work life. The Continuous Improvement/ Total Cost Department was created over a long period of time, under different names.


Timeline Of How The Department Was Created

1st Informal Letter - Oct. 13, 1973

  • Both UAW & Ford interested in improving work environment & making work a more satisfying experience

  • Established a Joint Committee on Improving the Work Environment

  • Planned experimentation to improve employee morale and satisfaction, reduce absenteeism and turnover, and benefit product quality

Letter of Intent regarding Employee Involvement - Oct. 4, 1979

  • Established the National Joint Committee on Employee Involvement

  • Outlined intentions regarding EI: to increase employee job satisfaction, reduce absenteeism and turnover, benefit consumers thru improvement in overall product quality


Appendix E - 1993

  • EI process becomes appendix to Master Agreement between UAW and Ford Motor Company in Volume I

  • Established that ERCs may be utilized as a resource for any process or program that fits the needs of that location


Appendix J (combined Appendix E & I) - 2007

  • Streamlined operational forums with governance responsibilities for team/employee empowerment


Roll of the ERC LOU - 2007

  • Defined roles and responsibilities, including development of the work groups through communications and fostering systems thinking and facilitation of the LCIF


Appendix J, Exhibit 2 - 2011

  • Formalized the work group/team structure and the Team Leader role to further empower employees in their daily work.

  • Implementation guidelines outlined in the CI Charter


Mission Statement:

The joint parties are committed to implementing work groups/ teams to a consistent standard supporting the global manufacturing strategy as defined in Appendix J. Our beliefs and behaviors must honor standardization and continuous improvement to enable our work groups/teams to deliver “One Manufacturing – Best in the World”.


Guiding Principle:

The parties pledge to work together on continuous improvement initiatives at every organizational level to improve quality, operating efficiency including plant cost performance, work relationships, work group/team effectiveness, job security, and quality of work life.

Appendix J: Memorandum Of Understanding Continuous Improvement Forum

The Company and the Union recognize the interdependent relationship of quality, operating efficiency, employee empowerment, and job security. Furthermore, the concepts of employee empowerment, work groups and teams and “continuous improvement” are supported fully by the leadership of the UAW National Ford Department and the Company. For Ford to remain a viable competitor and provide the opportunity for employee job security, every location must improve continuously to enable the Company to achieve its objective of being the “One Manufacturing – Best in World”. Each location must strive to meet and beat the competition. The support of and dedication to the work force are essential. Accordingly, the parties pledge to work together on continuous improvement initiatives at every organizational level to improve quality, operating efficiency including plant cost performance, work relationships, work group/team effectiveness, job security, and quality of work life.    


Role of the NCIF

  • Report progress to Senior Advisory Continuous Improvement Forum

  • Support / encourage local parties to make improvements

  • Encourage / support the concept of team work

  • Oversee the implementation of work groups / teams and govern the Joint Continuous Improvement Charter

  • Develop assessment tools that incorporate employee feedback

  • Serve as a depository for collecting “success stories” and sharing with other locations as needed

  • Visit locations and offer on-site assistance to discuss the importance of job preservation and job creation and the reasons for the commitment to increase operational efficiency

  • Provide coaching and mentoring to local forums

  • Encourage local benchmarking efforts

  • Schedule periodic meetings to provide greater information sharing and discussions

  • Train the local parties on this section of the agreement


Continuous Improvement Principles LOU


  • The Company reaffirms its commitment to continuous improvement and the establishment of structures that allow employees the opportunity to participate in continuous improvement activities.

  • Local Continuous Improvement Forums should include consideration of each plant’s operational requirements and the needs of employees as they focus on cooperative efforts that achieve our common goals of improving operational effectiveness, increasing job satisfaction, and fully engaging the workforce.

  • It is understood that continuous improvement will be based on consistent support from both the local management and Union leadership.

  • In pursuit of these initiatives, representatives of the National Continuous Improvement Forum will be available to work with local committees to achieve these goals. 

(2019 UAW-Ford National CBA, Vol. IV, CI Principles)


Total Cost Letter of Understanding

Letter of Understanding from Director, Labor Affairs to UAW-Ford President concerning Total Cost:

  • “During the 2019 negotiations, the parties reaffirmed the importance of promoting a total cost perspective by eliminating wasteful procedures across manufacturing operations.” 

  • “This was in response to the Union’s concern that local management relies primarily on work force reductions to reduce costs, without exploring other areas where cost reductions could be accomplished.”

  • “Engaging the work group / team members to improve the business will result in long term plant viability and job security.”

  • “Continuous improvement actions achieved by the hourly workforce that result in direct savings to the plant labor and overhead budget, will be used to offset the annual task.”

(2019 UAW-Ford National CBA, Vol. IV, Total Cost)