Fiat Chrysler autoworkers started to vote on Tuesday over a new contract that would hike wages for some employees to $28 an hour.
The vote began after the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative deal on October 7, just minutes before 40,000 workers were set to go on strike. Workers will complete the voting process by Wednesday night.
The new contract offers a huge pay hike for tier-two workers who have been hired by Fiat Chrysler since 2007. Those employees make up 45% of the automaker’s factory workers.
Under the current contract, tier-two workers earn between $17 to $24 an hour, while veteran autoworkers earn at least $28 an hour and get a pension as well as retiree health benefits.
If workers reject the new contract, the UAW and Fiat Chrysler could be sent back to the table and possibly set a new strike deadline. The union could also put talks on hold and then go into negotiations with General Motors or Ford Motor.
While the UAW has 50,000 members in their U.S. factories, the union represents far fewer tier two workers.
The UAW typically finishes talks with one of the big three automobile manufacturers in the hopes of using any successful negotiating to leverage talks against the other companies.
Under the new contract tier-two employees would be automatically advanced to $28 an hour after seven years with the company.
Veteran workers will get their first raise in 10 years, a 3% raise immediately and another 3% in two years.
Workers who have been with the company for a while will also receive various bonuses and profit sharing payments.
If the contract is ratified veteran workers each receive $4,000 and anyone hired since 2007 will receive $3,000.
Despite a sharp increase in automobile sales in recent years, Fiat Chrysler has argued that it needs to reduce costs wherever possible.