Workers represented by the United Auto Workers voted to ratify a four-year contract with automaker Chrysler LLC, the union announced on Saturday, capping a close-fought ratification battle that had threatened to scuttle the labor pact.

Hourly production workers at Chrysler voted 56 percent in favor of the new contract, which would allow the automaker to hire new workers at half the wage rate of current workers for a wide range of jobs in its factories.

The UAW represents some 45,000 Chrysler workers. The focus for union leadership now shifts to negotiations with Ford Motor Co., which is seeking deep concessions as it attempts to bounce back from a record $12.6 billion loss last year.