Voting Ends Friday on UAW-GM Contract Deal; Ford, Chrysler Turns Coming

The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has lasted for 39 days so far, but early unofficial tallies show that union workers are mostly coming down in favor of the deal. Some 4,800 workers at GM’s Flint have reportedly voted to support the contract by substantial margins.

According to a report at Automotive News, 60.4% of production workers and 68.8% of skilled trade workers represented by the UAW have voted in favor of the contract. Voting at the assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, was much closer, however, with 1,666 voting to approve the deal and 1,673 voting to reject it.

Not counting the Flint votes, 4,513 production workers at 11 locations favor the deal while 3,317 oppose it. Among skilled trades workers, 1,674 approve while 594 do not. All vote totals are unofficial and won’t be finalized until voting closes at 4:00 p.m. Friday. The UAW International will release the official tally after the voting ends. GM employs about 46,000 union workers.

GM’s Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant, which the company has scheduled to shut down, is scheduled to vote Thursday and Friday. The Baltimore transmission plant that GM has said it will close has not reported a vote yet. The Warren, Michigan, transmission plant that is closing voted 883 to 120 to accept the deal.

GM workers could have returned to work while voting was completed but did not and will not return unless the contract is ratified. In the event the contract is rejected, the strike could continue while negotiations resume.

Ratification requires 50% plus one votes in favor of the deal. Elections are scheduled and managed by union locals that count the ballots and report the totals to the international. There is no audit of the voting.

If the contract is approved, the UAW will use the GM contract as a template to continue negotiations with both Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU). Ford employs more than 55,000 union members and Chrysler employs around 44,000 UAW members, nearly half of whom are temporary employees.

For Ford, the $11,000 the signing bonus is a big hurdle, and the company does not have U.S. plants that it wants to close. Neither does Chrysler, which has enjoyed a cost benefit from the prior contract’s treatment of temporary workers. The GM deal, if approved, is going to need some massaging to fit the other automakers. Strikes against both Ford and Chrysler remain real possibilities.