Ford production workers in Kentucky vote against UAW labor deal


(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — Production workers across two Ford plants in Louisville, Kentucky, voted against a tentative agreement that ended a weekslong strike, a local chapter of the United Auto Workers said on Facebook late Sunday night.

By contrast, skilled trade workers at the two plants voted in favor of the agreement, leaving the members of UAW Local 862 split on the deal depending on their respective jobs.

Neither UAW Local 862 nor Ford immediately responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Production workers who belong to the chapter voted down the agreement by a margin of 55% to 45%, while skilled trade workers voted in favor of the deal by a share of 69% to 31%.

Members of the chapter work at the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Plant, a major Ford factory that employs 8,700 workers who went out on strike nearly four weeks before the two sides reached an agreement. In all, some 12,000 workers belong to UAW Local 862.

The Louisville-area chapter accounts for roughly 20% of the 57,000 members of the UAW who are set to vote on the tentative agreement with Ford. A majority of the members must vote in favor of the agreement in order for it to be ratified. If members vote the agreement down, the strike will resume.

A targeted strike against the Big 3 U.S. automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which owns Jeep and Chrysler — ended earlier this month after each of the companies reached similar agreements with the union. The tentative deals included a roughly 25% raise over four years, as well as significant improvements on pensions and the right to protest the closure of plants.

Since reaching the agreements, UAW President Shawn Fain has touted them as a major victory for the union and the broader labor movement.

“The workers run the economy,” Fain said in an address to members of the UAW at a car plant in Illinois on Thursday. “And we the workers have the power to shut this economy down if it doesn’t work for the working class.”

President Joe Biden, who spoke at the event wearing a red T-shirt emblazoned with the UAW logo, described the tentative deal as a model that he hoped would fuel a wave of unionization across the auto industry.

“I’m a little selfish,” Biden said. “I want this type of agreement for all auto workers.”

However, the tentative agreement falls short of some ambitious demands made by Fain at the outset of the strike in September. Initially, the union called for 40% wage increases over the 4-year duration of the contract as well as a four-day workweek at full-time pay.

Ultimately, the union agreed to a 25% accumulated wage increase and set aside its demand for a four-day workweek.

Still, labor experts who previously spoke to ABC News said that Ford workers would likely approve the deal, since the initial demands were understood to be a strategic overreach meant to ensure that a compromise left the workers in a strong position.

“There’s probably a small risk of the deal being rejected,” Robert Bruno, director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Illinois University, told ABC News. “I think the membership probably understands that this was a fantastic effort.”

“There’s a lot of strategy involved in setting those initial targets,” Bruno added. “And there’s an understanding that at some point they’ll probably find some compromise position.”

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