Ford workers reject contract; possible strike looms

October 13, 2011

(AP/M. Spencer Green)
The Ford Explorer is one of three car models being assembled in Chicago area Ford plants.

Workers at a Chicago Ford plant rejected the company's tentative four-year contract and are being told to prepare for a possible strike. Seventy-seven percent of the workers at the south side plant said no to Ford's proposal.

The proposed contract includes a $6,000 dollar signing bonus, profit-sharing in lieu of annual raises and adding 1,100 jobs to two Chicago area plants.

But new workers would be paid less than existing staffers. And as automotive analyst George Augustaitis said, workers want to see a piece of Ford's recent success.

"The workers who have been there a long time are saying, 'Hey, I've taken an eight year pay freeze, I want my windfall now,'" Augustaitis said.

Meantime, a Ford spokeswoman said the company thinks their offer is fair. Nine hundred workers at the Chicago Heights Ford plant are voting on the contract today.

Union officials and plant workers did not immediately return calls for comment.