UAW leaders approve Ford labor deal, send it to rank-and-file union members for final vote

Key Points
  • Local UAW leaders approve a four-year deal with Ford that includes $9,000 ratification bonuses and the closure of an engine plant.
  • The union's 55,000 rank-and-file members with Ford will now vote on the proposed contract.
  • If the deal is ratified, the UAW will next turn its attention to Fiat Chrysler.
Bill Pugliano | Getty Images News | Getty Images

DETROIT — Local United Auto Workers leaders from across the country approved a new four-year labor contract with Ford Motor, sending it to their rank-and-file members for final approval.

The deal includes Ford investing more than $6 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations and the creation or retention of 8,500 U.S. jobs. The largest investment would be $1.1 billion in Ford's Michigan Assembly plant for the all-new Ford Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger midsize pickup, according to a summary of the deal released by the union Friday.

Ford declined to comment on any details of the proposal.

The automaker, as first reported by CNBC, also agreed to $9,000 ratification bonuses for full-time workers and $3,500 ratification bonuses for temporary employees.

The UAW's roughly 55,000 rank-and-file members with the automaker are now expected to vote on the proposed contract over the next two weeks.

The deal also includes the closing of an engine plant in Michigan. If the deal is approved, about 600 hourly employees who work at Ford's Romeo Engine factory would be offered jobs at a nearby transmission plant or a buyout package equivalent to ones under the union's recent deal with General Motors.

Ford's proposed agreement also mirrors GM's deal for 3% raises or 4% lump-sum bonuses each year of the contract, retention of roughly 3% out-of-pocket health-care costs and a path for temporary workers to become full-time employees. Under the deal, Ford is also offering a $60,000 retirement bonus for eligible workers. All lower-paid, or "in-progression," workers would reach top pay of more than $32 an hour in the next four years, according to the agreement.

Unlike GM's deal, Ford would not dissolve a jointly operated training center with the union that has been part of a multiyear federal probe into union corruption. However, the Ford-UAW facility would rework its operational structure for additional oversight, as GM did, according to the union.

No one involved in the Ford training center has been charged as part of the corruption probe, as they have at the GM and Fiat Chrysler facilities.

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Other Ford investments under the deal, according to the union, would include $900 million at its Ohio Assembly plant for a "new product" in 2023 and $700 million at its F-150 plant in metro Detroit for a redesign of the pickup, including a new all-electric version.

The UAW, if members approve the deal, would next turn its attention to Fiat Chrysler, the last of the Detroit automakers the union needs to negotiate with for 2019.

The UAW's discussions with Fiat Chrysler are expected to be more contentious than those with Ford amid a federal probe into union corruption that started with the Italian-American automaker. There's also uncertainty about the company's future amid a planned merger with French automaker PSA Group.