Local Ford employees have rejected a new four-year contract proposal – but the vote’s impact will remain unclear until United Auto Workers nationwide finish voting on Friday.

080903_UAW_FordA local union official told Insider Louisville that about two-thirds of the local members voted against the proposal, which included an $8,500 signing bonus, a profit-sharing prepayment of $1,500 and company investments of $1.3 billion into the two Louisville plants.

Todd Dunn, president of United Auto Workers Local 862, had told Insider Louisville Tuesday that the contract would cover about 5,000 employees each at the Kentucky Truck Plant and the Louisville Assembly Plant.

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

Some locations have yet to vote, but so far the majority of union members, about 52 percent, have rejected the offer. However, if more than half of the union members accept the offer, the contract will be valid nationwide, even for locations such as Louisville where members voted against the contract, a Ford official said.

The Detroit Free Press reported today that the fate of the agreement now rests with thousands of union members in Dearborn, Mich., including UAW Local 600, which “has traditionally been a stronghold for activists who disagree with the direction of the UAW.”

Nonetheless, UAW’s vice president told the Detroit paper that he was “optimistic” about the proposal being approved.

Ford today provided Insider Louisville with a one-sentence statement in reaction to the vote in Louisville: “We respect the UAW’s communication and ratification process and will have more details to share once the process is complete.”

The union had said that during negotiations, it asked the company “to commit to greater levels of investment” in the U.S. If the union members approve the proposal, Ford has pledged to invest $9 billion. That includes $600 million to be invested in the Kentucky Truck Plant for the all-new Super Duty and Expedition and Navigator, and around $700 million for the Louisville Assembly Plant to support the all-new Escape and Lincoln MKC.

The 2017 Ford Escape.
The 2017 Ford Escape.

Ford could not be reached today to say what a contract rejection would mean for the planned local investments.

On Tuesday, the company launched the all-new Louisville-built Escape at the LA Auto Show, saying the contract proposal called for Escape production to “likely increase” at the Louisville Assembly plant because of high demand for SUVs.

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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.