UAW declares Chrysler deal ratified, despite split

Oct 26, 2011

Update, 6:30 pm:

Speaking with reporters on a late afternoon conference call, UAW President Bob King says its International Executive Board followed the union’s constitution, which gives skilled trades workers a separate right of ratification on skilled trades issues.

But King says the board investigated the reasons skilled trades workers voted the contract down. He says according to Facebook posts and leaflets, the main reasons were general economic ones affecting all workers, such as bonuses - and not issues specific to skilled trades workers.

"You want to protect the rights of the minority, but you can’t let the minority overrule the rights of the majority," King said.

King says with all three contracts with the Detroit automakers now finalized, the union will turn its attention to organizing efforts, and the 2012 elections.

Here's the breakout of the vote, according to the UAW:

Total Hourly Bargaining Unit (HBU), including Skilled Trades:

54.75 percent voted for the agreement

45.25 percent voted against the agreement


Skilled Trades only:

44.41 percent voted for the agreement

55.59 percent voted against the agreement


Salaried Bargaining Unit (SBU):

68.80 percent voted for the agreement

31.20 percent voted against the agreement


The tentative agreement includes $4.5 billion to produce new and upgraded vehicles and components by 2015. 

Jobs, investment and product guarantees in the tentative agreement include:


·         Belvidere, Ill., New compact vehicle, estimated plant investment of $600 million

·         Sterling Heights, Mich., New compact vehicle, estimated plant investment of $850 million

·         Kokomo, Ind., New Front Wheel Drive 9 Speed - 946 TE transmission and new Rear Wheel Drive 8 Speed - 845RE transmission, estimated plant investment of $1.3 million

·         Toledo, Ohio, Next generation steering columns, FRW and RWD Torque Converters, estimated plant investment of $100 million

·         Trenton, Mich., Reutilize portion of the Trenton North Engine Plant to produce an incremental volume (150,000 units) of 3.8L V-6, estimated plant investment of $100 million

Details of the agreement, including a full list of plant investments, can be found here.

Update, 4:31 pm:

In a statement, the UAW says it's declared the agreement with Chrysler ratified, in spite of the "no" vote by a majority of skilled trade workers. The union says its executive board investigated, and determined that the reasons for the “no” vote among the skilled trades were “predominantly economic and not unique to skilled trades members.”  UAW leadership declared the agreements ratified for all Chrysler workers under its constitution.

UAW President Bob King has called a 5:30 pm press conference to brief reporters on the deal.

Chrysler has posted a press release on the ratification here.

3:39 pm:

Chrysler workers have reached a split decision.

A majority of United Auto Worker production members have voted to ratify a new contract with the automaker. But UAW skilled trade members rejected the deal on Wednesday afternoon.

UAW leaders discussed the vote on a 1 p.m. conference call and have not yet announced how they intend to proceed, according to the Detroit Free Press, which broke news of the split vote. No precedent exists for resolving a split vote.

“I don’t remember this ever happening,” Art Schwartz, a former GM labor negotiator, tells the newspaper. “It’s never happened in my memory in a national agreement.”

Precise results from the votes have yet to be released. CBS-TV has also reported that the tally is split.

The Soldiers of Solidarity, a splinter group within the UAW that has traditionally opposed concessions, published a laundry list of complaints about the tentative Chrysler contract on its website.

Among their complaints: No reparations are included for past concessions, no cost-of-living allowances, and no parity with the already-ratified Ford and General Motors contracts.

Chrysler’s financial position is more precarious than its fellow automakers. It lost $254 million in the first half of 2011, while GM earned a profit of $5.7 billion and Ford earned $4.9 billion.

What comes next? That’s unknown. Under terms of the federal bailout, Chrysler workers cannot strike, so it seems two options would constitute either a return to the bargaining table or binding arbitration.


*This post from Pete Bigelow first appeared on our partner website - Changing Gears