After two days of voting, 67 percent of the United Auto Workers in St. Paul have voted to ratify a new employment contract with Ford Motor Co.
The International UAW has until 10 tonight to tally votes from locals across the nation on the pact.
If the contract is approved, the 925 union workers at Ford's Ranger truck plant in St. Paul will stay on the job into 2009, a year beyond when Ford first planned to close the factory.
Improved Canadian truck sales are believed to have won the plant a temporary reprieve, union leaders said.
The pact will also give "typical workers" on the plant floor up to $12,904 in raises, signing bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments over four years and put management of retiree health-care benefits in the hands of the union for the first time.
For Ford, the pact creates a new, lower-tier wage system for new hires, a difficult clause for UAW members to digest, said Roger Terveen, president of Local 879. The new wage is about $14.20 an hour, less than half the $28 to $30 made by longtime workers and also shy of the $18 that temporary workers make.
"This was a huge issue with a lot of members," Terveen said.