updated 11/9/2007 11:55:33 AM ET 2007-11-09T16:55:33

United Auto Workers locals in Michigan and Illinois overwhelmingly have approved a new contract with Ford Motor Co., the local union presidents said Friday.

Eighty-two percent of those who voted from Local 898, which represents about 1,200 workers at Ford’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti Township, supported the new four-year deal, while 75 percent of the 900 union members at Local 588 at a Chicago stamping plant were in favor.

Dozens of locals at plants across the country are voting on the pact through the weekend. The agreement was reached in the early morning hours of Nov. 3 after a nearly two-day bargaining session at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters.

At the Rawsonville plant, which makes starters, coils and carbon canisters, union members favored the deal because they are guaranteed work through the life of the contract, said local President Ralph Mayer.

Because it makes small components that can be outsourced to parts supply companies, the plant’s future has been in jeopardy for 25 years, and workers are happy to have guaranteed work, Mayer said.

“Four years of that steady work and four years of knowing we’re going to be producing it really meant a lot to folks here in the plant,” he said.

He would not give out exact vote totals for the plant, but said about 900 workers turned out to cast ballots.

In Chicago, where the plant’s main stampings are hoods, doors, roofs and floors, the contract was more popular among production workers than skilled trades, but it still passed overwhelmingly, said local President Bill Jackson.

Skilled trades workers approved the deal 195-112, while production workers voted 305-58 in favor, Jackson said.

“The common comment was almost more of a surprisingly good contract, as good or better than what we would have expected kind of comment,” he said.

A majority of Ford workers must approve the contract before it can take effect. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said voting should be completed by Monday evening.

The union represents about 54,000 U.S. hourly workers at Ford. Similar contracts already have been approved at General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

Local union presidents and bargaining chairmen voted unanimously Monday to recommend passage of the agreement at a daylong meeting in Dearborn.

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