UAW Narrowly Approves Chrysler Labor Contract

Unexpected opposition among rank and file members is overcome in close vote

By Brendan Moore

10.26.2007

It was a very close thing, but it looks as if the new four-year Chrysler-UAW labor agreement has been ratified by a majority of the United Auto Workers voting on the contract.

The tentative agreement hammered out by the UAW leadership got off to a rocky start, with unexpected opposition from a sizable percentage of the union rank and file membership. Several large plants voted against ratification and some senior UAW leaders, most notably Bill Parker, the de facto leader of the dissidents within the union, fought against approval, urging union members through various media platforms to vote “no”.

Parker, the UAW’s national Chrysler negotiating chairman, has made it very plain since the tentative agreement was announced that he feels that Chrysler took advantage of the UAW in the negotiations and gave the UAW workers at Chrysler a much worse deal than what the UAW workers at GM received. One example of this inequity from the point of view of Chrysler’s UAW workers is the fact that Chrysler did NOT make a commitment to move production back to the U.S. from their Mexican plants, which is something GM agreed to in their agreement with the UAW. Additionally, Parker and others are extremely unhappy about the agreement’s two-tier wage provisions, which would allow Chrysler to bring on new hires at a lower wage than current UAW workers.

Senior union officials have considerably ratcheted up their push for the new agreement since the early defeats at several large production plants, have conducted numerous Q&A sessions at the various Chrysler plants in order to allay fears and/or misconceptions about the new agreement, and they were ultimately successful in turning back the rebellion against the tentative pact. In fact, the strong push resulted in a 65% approval rate at the Sterling Heights car plant where the aforementioned Bill Parker is the senior UAW onsite.

The last vote of the 27 Chrysler plants is at Chrysler’s small-car plant in Belvidere, Ill., and is scheduled for later today. There are roughly 3,300 workers at the small-car plant, which is too few to change the national outcome unless a huge majority nix the deal, which is not likely since small cars are what Chrysler needs more of going forward, seemingly assuring the plant (and the UAW workers there) of production work the next four years of the work agreement.

The UAW leadership has to feel as if they dodged a bullet on this one, and are no doubt hoping the next (and final) agreement with Ford Motor Company and its attendant ratification process will be an easier one.

Editor’s note: 10.27.2007, 11:31 AM Eastern Time – as expected, the UAW officially ratified the contract with Chrysler this morning.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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5 Comments

  1. Not a single temp worker i know is going to vote for this at the plant, I don’t know how you can say it’s going to pass when everyone i know is going to vote against it you know

    We’re going to get what we want or bring chrysler down with us. they cannt walk all over us like that

  2. Anonymous, to me, it seems like a matter of simple mathematics.

    If Chrysler has 48,000 UAW employees, that means 24,001 need to vote for the agreement for it to pass.

    Since Automotive news is reporting that prior to the Belvidere plant vote, the contract is at 56% with all other plants having completed their voting, and Belvidere has 3,800 voting employees, that means 44,200 members have already voted on it. 56% of 44,200 is 24,752, and that is above 24,001. So even if 100% of Belvidere rejects it, they still appear to have enough votes to ratify the deal.

    My guess is that they have not announced formal ratification so Belvidere still feels they have a say in the matter.

  3. Can there be any better example of union thinking than the words from anonymous up above? “We’re going to get what we want or bring chrysler down with us. they cannt walk all over us like that” It’s like a suicide pact and these guys are climbing over each other to be first in line to pull the trigger.

  4. What a typical self-serving response from the UAW member.

  5. My union brotherss are going to regret ratifying this unfair contract. Their going to figuer out that the dissidents were right along long.

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