Ford Employee's Dodge Towed, Allegedly Damaged After Parking in Plant's 'Fords Only' Spot
Rules are rules, but are they fair?
You've heard of Employees Only parking, but Ford Motor Company takes it to the next level by designating dozens of prime parking spots at its manufacturing facilities as "Fords Only." Now an employee at one of its engine plants in Ohio is calling the policy unfair and outdated after his Dodge Avenger sedan was towed from one such spot and allegedly damaged in the process, News 5 Cleveland reports.
There's one simple rule about parking at the Ford Cleveland Engine Plant, mutually agreed upon during the last round of negotiations between the local United Auto Workers union and plant management: Fords (and anything by sister brands Lincoln and Mercury) get the good spots. It's apparently been that way for decades, highlighted back in a 2006 Chicago Tribune story that revealed some Ford facilities even maintain separate, often distant parking lots for non-FoMoCo vehicles.
The semi-formal policy is back in the news thanks to a Cleveland Engine Plant employee named Kevin Carter who claims his 2008 Dodge Avenger received about $1,500 worth of body damage when it was towed out of one of these spots earlier this month. The impound fee cost him another $177. Carter admits to having received a written warning about previously parking his Fiat-Chrysler vehicle in the restricted area, but he points to a large number of empty Ford-only spots in the lot and the fact that he's still driving an American-made car made by UAW members as proof the policy doesn't hold water.
"Whether you got a Ford, GM, Chrysler, they're all American made. It has to be re-evaluated," Carter said. "It's tougher in the winter, you have to park farther away, a longer walk. And then you got pregnant ladies inside, we have older women inside, we have older gentlemen—you know, they have to walk farther away because they don't own a Ford."
UAW Local 1250 President Mark Payne told News 5 Cleveland that the Fords-only parking policy has the support of the vast majority of its members, and that the union would only revisit it during the next round of contract talks if employees voted to do so. The Tribune article from 2006 features a number of interviews with Ford workers at the Chicago Assembly Plant, most of whom didn't really mind the policy—even those who were forced to walk the extra distance every day. More than a decade later, it doesn't seem like Carter will have a ton of support if he pushes for a change.
We reached out to Ford to get its official stance on the matter and we'll update if and when we hear back; in that same Tribune write-up, a spokesman said that individual plants set their own parking policies in conjunction with the union, adding that it considered the reserved spots a "reward" for brand loyalty and support.
We also reached out to other manufacturers to see how many have similar rules at their U.S. facilities. Volkswagen confirmed that the first 15 rows in the lot at its massive Chattanooga Assembly Plant are "loyalty parking" reserved for VW group vehicles, while a Toyota representative told The Drive that it doesn't have any such policy at its manufacturing plants or offices. A Fiat-Chrysler spokesman confirmed the existence of some sort of preferred parking system for FCA vehicles, but couldn't provide specific details on the plan. Representatives for General Motors, Nissan, and others have yet to respond.
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