The scandal is impacting Gamble’s ability to sell the tentative agreement reached with Ford on Oct. 30 to UAW members. He wanted to attend informational meetings with workers around the U.S. but said he’ll have to dial that back while addressing corruption-related issues. Gamble still plans to go to multiple nearby plants to help get the deal ratified. Voting ends Friday, Nov. 15.
It’s no small feat. Roughly 61 percent of voters at Chicago Assembly, the first major plant to cast ballots, rejected the deal.
The previous Ford contract passed by a slim margin, and many workers went into this year’s negotiations with even higher expectations.
In a highly unusual move that critics have argued was a ploy to buy votes, bargainers revised the tentative deal after voting had started to fix an entry related to raises. The change effectively fixes a loophole that would have kept some 10,000 newer workers who already got their annual raise this year from earning as much as workers whose 2019 anniversary date is after the contract takes effect, if it’s approved.
Rank-and-file members have complained that gains made to eventually raise temporary workers and in-progression workers to top wages are not enough. Some also grumbled about the lack of gains for retirees and the failure to reinstate cost-of-living wage increases. Ford workers instead get annual $1,500 bonuses to cover inflation.
In a joint statement, Local 249 Chairman Jim Fisher and President Jason Starr, who represent workers at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri, acknowledged a “significant amount of frustration” among members but urged them to vote yes. “Our organization is in crisis and is in a fight for its survival,” they wrote.
“We ask each and every member to explore their conscience, look at the reality of our situation and ultimately, we ask you to support the ratification of this tentative agreement because it is the correct decision to make at this time of crisis and positions us to rebuild our union for the future.”
Jackie Charniga contributed to this report.