DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- Now Ford ( F) must await membership's approval of its tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers. That approval is generally expected, despite pockets of resistance among some of Ford's 41,000 hourly workers. The tentative agreement was
announced on Tuesday
The benefit, beyond labor peace, includes an improved credit rating, something Ford has
long been seeking. "Our initial assessment of the proposed UAW contract is that it should enable Ford to maintain its operating flexibility, fixed cost position, breakeven point, and liquidity position near current levels," said Moody's senior vice president Bruce Clark, in a prepared statement. "If our final review of the contract's provisions is consistent with this initial assessment, and if the contract is ratified, Ford's credit metrics and business position would be supportive of a higher rating." Moody's currently rates secured Ford credit at Ba2, two notches below investment grade, with other credit instruments rated at Ba3. About $55 billion in debt would be affected by an upgrade. The Detroit Free Press reported Friday that UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles has gone on the road to sell the contract to union members in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. "In these times that we are in, I don't see how an intelligent person can make any other decision" than to ratify, Settles told the newspaper. "I am optimistic that it is going to pass." The contract would include signing bonuses up to $6,000, an average $3,700 profit-sharing payment after ratification and four annual $1,500 payments. It also commits Ford to 5,750 new entry-level jobs at its U.S. plants. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/tedreednc. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.