Deal gives Ford workers $9K signing bonus plant will close

DETROIT — Ford workers will get $9,000 each if they ratify a new four-year contract with the company, but Ford will close a factory in the deal, a person briefed on the pact said Thursday.

The company plans to close its engine factory in Romeo, Michigan, north of Detroit, but 600 union workers at the plant will be offered buyouts or jobs at a transmission factory in nearby Sterling Heights, Michigan, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified because the contract hasn’t been explained to workers.

Ford reached a tentative four-year contract agreement with the United Auto Workers union Wednesday night. The union says it secured over $6 billion in product investments at U.S. factories. The investments will create or keep over 8,500 jobs, but no precise number of new jobs was given. Local union leaders will meet in Detroit Friday to hear an explanation of the contract terms.

The deal with Ford’s 55,000 U.S. union workers doesn’t match the $11,000 signing bonus that General Motors workers will get. But Ford workers are likely to get a mix of pay raises and lump sum payments that GM agreed to because the union normally uses the first contract settled as a template for the other Detroit automakers.

About 49,000 GM workers ratified their deal last week after a 40-day strike that paralyzed the company’s U.S. production and hampered its factories in Canada and Mexico.

The Romeo engine factory makes two V8 engines that go into the Mustang sports car and the F-150 Raptor pickup truck, as well as machined parts for two other engines. The work will instead be moved to other factories as part of the $6 billion in U.S. factory investments, the person said.

If local union leaders vote to recommend the contract to Ford workers, nationwide voting likely will take another week.

The union then will focus its bargaining on Fiat Chrysler, the last of the Detroit automakers to settle.

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