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UAW workers in Chicago reject Ford deal, strike possible

Ford's hourly workforce is having a tough time ratifying the tentative agreement struck between the Blue Oval and United Auto Workers union last week, despite that deal being the most generous among those made this year between the Big 3 automakers and their respective unions. For example, Ford workers will receive a $6,000 signing bonus if the contract is ratified, compared to $5,000 for General Motors workers and $3,500 for Chrysler workers. GM was the first to strike a tentative deal with the UAW in September and has already seen its contract ratified, while Chrysler's deal is the most recent with voting expected to begin soon.

Earlier this week, UAW Local 900, a chapter that represents three Ford plants near Detroit, rejected the deal by a narrow margin. Automotive News is now reporting that Ford's Chicago Assembly plant is joining them in rejecting the offer, though this time "overwhelmingly." Chicago Assembly handles production of the Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Ford Explorer. Of the 2,317 workers who voted, 77% cast their ballots against the proposed deal.

At the same time, the UAW is reportedly making it known that, should the tentative agreement not be ratified, the organization will strike. Of the three major U.S. automakers, both General Motors and Chrysler workers lost the right to strike while those companies were restructuring in bankruptcy. Only Ford workers can strike, that company having avoided bankruptcy and its restrictions, and they may do so if the deal is not approved by the majority.

As of this writing, the UAW Ford Department Facebook page reports that 3,256 workers (45.4%) have voted to ratify the contract and 3,915 (54.6%) have voted against. That's a far cry from Ford's 41,000-strong union workforce, and the union has until October 18th to finish voting.

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