AVON LAKE - Members of United Auto Workers Local 2000, which represents more than 2,000 employees at the Ohio Assembly Plant, overwhelmingly approved the four-year labor agreement with Ford.
The vote of support on Monday was in step with others that took place across the country since Friday in which rank-and-file members of the UAW resoundingly approved the contract, which will keep open the Avon Lake plant and others that had been expected to close.
According to a flier posted Monday night at the Avon Lake plant, 80.3 percent of the votes cast by Local 2000 members were in favor of the pact.
Under the contract, which does not go into effect until a majority of the 54,000 union employees it covers across the country vote in favor of ratification, Ford will invest millions in the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, which will be the site of one of five new flexible body shops around the country.
City and county officials say the investment would be between $350 million and $800 million and will include a large-scale expansion of the plant. The new body shop will be able to be altered for different vehicles.
The project also includes updates to the paint shop.
The expansion is not expected to sideline the Econoline van series, which Ford currently builds at Ohio Assembly. In 2005, the automaker closed the Lorain Assembly Plant, where half of Econoline production had taken place, consolidating production of the workhorse vans in Avon Lake.
Feeling the new contract would be a good thing for the auto industry, the UAW Ford National Council - made up of delegates from more than 55 Ford facilities across the nation - voted days after the tentative agreement was reached to unanimously recommend ratification of the agreement, calling it a "contract that protects jobs and health care and provides real gains in economics and benefits," according to the UAW Web site.
Locals are following the recommendation all across the country.
In Illinois, the vote was 75 percent in favor among workers at the Chicago Stamping Plant, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Sixty-nine percent of UAW members at a plant in Missouri also voted Sunday in support of the national deal, The Associated Press reported.
In Kentucky, employees at Ford`s two Louisville plants overwhelmingly approved the four-year labor agreement. The local president told the Louisville Courier-Journal that 80 percent of production workers and 75 percent of skilled trade workers voted for the pact.
Grover C. Carpenter of Elyria retired in August after 33 years in the plant`s paint department and did not vote Monday, but he said the contract will be good for the union as well as the automaker.
"The boys did as well as they could to get this deal and I`m sure Ford did as well," he said. "This will be good for everyone."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.