UPDATE 1-Ford UAW contract gains support in ongoing vote

Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:50pm EDT

* Ford vote continues through next Tuesday

* Chrysler workers vote over next two weeks

* GM workers have already ratified their contract

By Bernie Woodall and Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Union leaders lobbying to win ratification for a proposed four-year contract with Ford Motor Co won new support in a close vote with five days remaining, a union online update showed on Friday.

The running tally as of Friday morning was 6,271 "yes" votes and 6,085 "no" votes, according to posting by the United Auto Workers Ford Department. That is about 51 percent for and 49 percent against.

Ford local unions vote through next Tuesday on the tentative pact, with the total vote result to be issued on Wednesday.

The vote will affect about 41,000 UAW-represented Ford workers.

The next big union local to report results will be UAW Local 600, the biggest Ford local, which will report results on Sunday. Local 600 represents a handful of plants near Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, including "The Rouge," a sprawling factory built by company founder Henry Ford.

UAW President Bob King said on Wednesday he was confident the pact would be ratified and that the weakening economy would undercut the union's position if the two sides were forced back into bargaining.

A Ford plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, voted 72 percent to approve the proposed pact, a union official said on Friday. That plant has been promised some of the production of the Ford Fusion sedan in a shift of work from Mexico.

Bringing back work from Mexico has been a selling point by King and UAW officials since Ford and the union reached a tentative agreement on Oct. 4.

UAW Local 1250 which represents two Ford engine plants in Cleveland where 1,032 workers voted, supported the contract by 53 percent to 47 percent.

The proposed UAW contract at Ford is the richest of the deals offered to workers at the Detroit automakers. In one of the key differences, Ford workers would receive a signing bonus of $6,000 each, compared with just $5,000 for workers at General Motors Co and $1,750 at Chrysler Group LLC .

Over the term of the contract, Ford workers are guaranteed at least $16,000 in bonuses. GM's 48,500 union workers would get $11,500 at a minimum. At Chrysler, the weakest of the Detroit Three, guaranteed payout is just $5,750.

Chrysler's 26,000 unionized workers will vote over the next two weeks on a tentative contract agreement reached by negotiators on Wednesday.

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