Ford Workers OK Labor Contract

The deal brings Detroit's key negotiations to a favorable close.
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Members of the United Auto Workers voted to ratify the union's landmark contract agreement with

Ford

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, bringing Detroit's crucial round of labor negotiations to a close that won high marks on Wall Street.

The UAW said Wednesday that of the 54,000 workers it represents at Ford, 79% voted in favor of the new four-year contract. Among production workers, 81% voted in favor, while 71% of skilled-trades workers approved the contract.

"We obtained solid commitments from

Ford to keep plants open and to invest in UAW members and union-made products here in the U.S.," said the UAW in a press release. "That means job security for our members, which was a top priority for us."

The vote follows similar new contracts approved at

General Motors

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and Chrysler, where the union called brief labor strikes before agreements were reached.

Detroit's Big Three automakers pursued dramatic changes to their labor cost structures as the U.S. auto industry faces an existential threat from low-cost, foreign-based manufacturers, like

Toyota

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, that have feasted on their market share in recent years.

All three companies agreed to set up a union-controlled health care trust fund to finance benefits for retirees in order to free themselves from the burden of shouldering those liabilities on their balance sheet. They also negotiated lower wages for new workers.

Shares of Ford were recently down 6 cents, or 0.7%, to $7.94.