The UAW’s proposed labor contract with Ford Motor Co. will fail unless workers at an F-150 assembly plant in Michigan approve it by a wide margin.
As of Thursday morning, about 18,000 Ford workers had voted against the deal, roughly 1,800 more than had voted in favor, according to tallies by Automotive News and UAW Local 551 in Chicago.
The odds of ratification grew longer overnight after Local 551, which represents 4,000 workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, reported that only 32 percent of its members voted to approve it. At the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan, the deal passed by just 37 votes.
That means the outcome rests solely with Local 600, whose 8,000 members work at the Dearborn Truck, Dearborn Stamping and Dearborn Engine plants, as well as some smaller operations.
UAW leaders held a press conference at Local 600 on Wednesday, urging workers to support the deal and warning that voting it down in the hopes of getting a more lucrative contract is risky.
“If we thought there was another dollar on the table, we would’ve gotten it the first time,” Local 600 President Bernie Ricke said.
Members of Local 600 have begun voting on the pact and the results are expected as early as Friday when balloting ends.
Tier 2 workers, who earn less than those hired before 2007 but would be put on an eight-year path to full wages under the proposed contract, have been a significant source of opposition. Many say they want the pay ladder to be shorter. Tier 2 workers account for 29 percent of Ford’s hourly work force.
“Some people, especially younger people, think that you just go open Door No. 2 and see if there’s something behind Door No. 2,” UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, the union’s lead negotiator with Ford, said Wednesday. “That’s not really how negotiations go.”
The Dearborn plants have fewer Tier 2 workers than many of the plants where workers have voted down the agreement. But it’s still very unlikely that Local 600 would support the deal by a wide enough margin to overcome the opposition at other locations.
Even if every member of Local 600 voted, at least 60 percent would need to vote “yes” to assure ratification. The deal has received that level of support at only four of the 20 UAW locals whose voting results have been reported publicly.