Ford workers nationwide have narrowly approved a new four-year contract that covers about 10,000 Louisville workers and gives them an $8,500 signing bonus, a profit-sharing prepayment of $1,500, and promises company investments of $1.3 billion into the two local plants.

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Local United Auto Workers members had rejected the proposal earlier this week, placing the tentative agreement in jeopardy.

However, thanks to strong support in Dearborn, Mich., on Friday, supporters eked out a narrow victory. With more than 41,000 votes counted, 51 percent voted in favor, according to a tally obtained by Insider Louisville.

As a majority of the members nationwide voted for the proposal, it will cover the Louisville plants, even though a majority here rejected it.

Before votes on Friday, 52 percent of union members had voted against the proposal. But on the last day of voting, nearly three-quarters of roughly 3,500 workers at the Dearborn Truck Plant voted in favor, giving supporters the edge by about 1,200 votes, according to unofficial totals.

UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement that with their vote, members “secured a strong future that will provide job security and economic stability for themselves and their families.”

John Fleming, Ford’s executive vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs, told Insider Louisville in an emailed statement shortly before midnight Friday that the company was pleased with the outcome.

“This agreement provides a good foundation for Ford Motor Company, our employees and our communities as we work together to create an even stronger business in the years ahead,” Fleming said.

Ford employees in Louisville had voted down the proposal earlier this week, with Louisville Assembly Plant workers rejecting the proposal with greater fervor than all other plants. At LAP, 67.9 percent voted “no.” The Kentucky Truck Plant’s workers disliked the proposal nearly as much, with 65 percent rejecting it.

The UAW’s national leadership and Ford officials had announced the proposal Nov. 6. Nationwide, the contract will cover about 54,000 employees.

Todd Dunn, president of United Auto Workers Local 862, could not be reached late Friday. At about 9:30 p.m., he told IL that votes in Dearborn had not been counted yet. Dunn had said Friday morning that regardless of how the vote goes, union members will return to their stations.

“We plan on coming to work and working like we normally do,” Dunn said.

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Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.