Members of the United Auto Workers at the Ford plant in Dearborn
Detroit - AFP
Workers at US auto giant Ford narrowly ratified the company's four-year labor deal with the United Auto Workers, the labor union announced.
Final results showed that members voted to ratify by a 51.4 percent majority after a last minute push by union leaders put the contract over the top at the company's giant Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Michigan, just outside of Detroit.
UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement that "our UAW members have ratified the national agreement after a long process and much debate.
"The voice of the majority has secured a strong future that will provide job security and economic stability for themselves and their families," Williams said.
A defeat for the contract could have left Ford facing a strike for the first time in 39 years.
A similar deal was ratified last month by workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, one of Detroit's so-called Big Three automakers along with Ford and General Motors.
The UAW had been looking to claw back some concessions made in order to help the US car makers survive the recession.
The agreement guarantees legacy workers hired before 2007 a three percent pay increase in the first and third year of the contract and a four percent lump-sum bonus in the second a fourth year of the contract.
In addition, workers also will collect a one-time ratification bonus of $8,500.
The contract also phases out a two-tier pay system that had prevailed at Ford since 2007.
Workers hired after 2007 will reach parity with older workers, who now earn 29 dollars per hour after eight years of service with company.
Many of the second-tier workers hired since 2010 will reach parity within the next four years, said company officials, who said the contract also secured more than $9 billion in new investment in Ford plants in the US.
Earlier on Friday, the UAW announced that it had finally ratified a new labor agreement with GM, covering more than 52,000 workers.
The contract discussion between GM and the UAW had re-opened after workers in the skilled trades' classifications rejected the contract.
Discussion with GM led to adjustments in the contract that will protect the job classifications of skilled trades from further consolidation, the UAW said in a statement.
The adjustments allowed the union's executive board to rule the contract had been ratified since an overall majority of UAW members employed by GM had voted earlier this month to approve the contract.
The economic provisions in the GM contract are virtually identical to the union's contract with Ford.
"General Motors is pleased that the UAW membership ratified the 2015 UAW-GM National Agreement, which is good for employees and the business," Katie McBride, GM spokeswoman said in a statement.
"We will continue to work with our UAW partners to implement the agreement, and engage our employees in improving the business and building great vehicles for our customers," she said.