Reporting Jeff Gilbert
DEARBORN (WWJ/AP) – Ford’s U.S. factory workers have approved a new four-year labor contract, with the union announcing this morning that the deal passsed by a 63 to 37 percent margin.
“I am pleased with the strong support for this agreement from UAW Ford members. I believe UAW Ford workers understood the importance of each and every vote,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union’s Ford Department, in a statement.
“That was evident in the high voter turnout with 85 percent of the overall membership voting, and at locals like Kansas City, where more than 80 percent of members voted and more than 90 percent of those voted in favor of the agreement,” Settles added.
The official totals released by the union said that just over 22,000 workers voted for the deal, just under 13, 000 voted against the agreement. The contract covers 41, 000 Ford workers in the U.S.
Late last week it appeared the deal was in danger of being defeated. But a number of big locals voted overwhelmingly in favor of the agreement, and by early this week the agreement was on the road to ratification.
The deal means labor peace at Ford, which was the only one of the major automaker where workers were allowed to strike.
“Everyone really is adverse to uncertainty,” said J.D. Power analyst Jeff Schuster. ”I think the fact that it’s ratified, they know what the deal is, the know what the parameters are. Now every can move forward and start planning for the future again. “
The agreement adds more than 5700 jobs. While entry level workers will get a raise, other workers will get lump sum payments and enhanced profit sharing.
“This agreement is proof that, by working together with our UAW partners and local communities, we can significantly create new jobs, invest in our plants and people, and make a very positive impact on the U.S. economy,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company’s president of The Americas, in a statement released by the company. “Our agreement is fair to our employees and it improves our competitiveness in the U.S.”
Ford joins General Motors in having a ratified agreement. Workers at Chrysler have just begun voting on their tentative deal.