Production workers at two Ford plants in Louisville, Kentucky, have rejected a tentative agreement to end a weekslong strike, according to a statement from a local chapter of the United Auto Workers (UAW) posted on Facebook late Sunday night.
The development highlights a division within UAW Local 862, as skilled trade workers at the same plants voted in favor of the agreement.
The split decision complicates the ongoing negotiations between Ford and the union, potentially impacting the broader UAW membership.
The UAW Local 862 chapter, comprising production and skilled trade workers, voted on the tentative agreement with Ford. Production workers opposed the deal by a margin of 55% to 45%, while skilled trade workers approved it with a 69% to 31% majority.
Mixed Results in Ford Strike Resolution
These workers are employed at the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Plant, major facilities contributing to Ford’s production. UAW Local 862 represents approximately 12,000 workers, with the Louisville chapter accounting for around 20% of the 57,000 UAW members set to vote on the agreement.
Most UAW members must vote in favor for the tentative agreement to be ratified. The rejection by production workers in the Louisville chapter introduces uncertainty, as it now hinges on the overall sentiment among UAW members.
If the majority votes against the agreement, the risk of a resumed strike looms, potentially disrupting the recent resolution achieved with other major US automakers.
The recent strike involved not only Ford but also General Motors and Stellantis, the parent company of Jeep and Chrysler. Each of the Big 3 reached similar agreements with the UAW, bringing an end to targeted strikes.
The tentative deals included substantial raises over four years, improved pension terms, and the right to protest plant closures. UAW President Shawn Fain has hailed these agreements as significant victories for the union and the broader labor movement, emphasizing workers’ power in shaping the economy.
President Joe Biden, a vocal supporter of unions, lauded the tentative deal and expressed hope that it would serve as a model for increased unionization across the auto industry.
Speaking at a UAW event in Illinois, Biden wore a red T-shirt adorned with the UAW logo and emphasized the importance of such agreements for all auto workers.
While the tentative agreement is viewed as a success by UAW leadership, it falls short of some ambitious demands made at the outset of the strike.
Initial calls for a 40% wage increase over four years and a four-day workweek at full-time pay were tempered during negotiations.
Ultimately, the agreed-upon terms include a 25% accumulated wage increase, and the demand for a four-day workweek was set aside.