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Chrysler UAW workers split, new contract in jeopardy

The UAW has been careful to not publish any sort of official results of the current voting process under way for the new 4-year Chrysler contract but reports suggest that with nearly all local branches around the US having turned in their results; production workers have voted in favor of the new deal while skilled trade workers have voted against the new contract.

Leaders from the United Auto Workers met today in Detroit to figure out the next step after the two types of union workers for Chrysler voted in different directions on the new 4-year contract. No specifics have been given as to what the numeric results were from the production and skilled trade workers but according to Automotive News, a split between the two groups has never occurred with any of the Detroit automakers so it will be interesting to see just how this shakes out.

The primary cause of the skilled trade workers giving this new Chrysler labor contract the “thumbs down” while the production workers voted in favor of the deal is in the fine print. The new Chrysler labor contract calls for a elimination of skilled trade workers through a consolidation process that narrows this group down to just five categories - electrical, millwright, pipefitter, machine repair and tool and die – while titles like carpenter/painter, brickmason, furnace repairer and cutter grinder will be phased out. Those workers who fall into that second group are encouraged to train in new areas so that they can fit into those positions named in the first group above but regardless of everything else, the fact that the new deal phases out some of the skilled trade workers makes it far more understandable as to why this group voted against the new deal. Chrysler also doesn’t include any provision for contract buyouts like we saw in the new GM and Ford deals.

On the other hand, the new 4-year Chrysler labor contract is far more appealing to production workers who, among other things, receive a pay raise for entry level workers, a higher pay ceiling for these workers and various bonuses each year in place of cost of living raises.

Should no other solution be possible, UAW leaders and negotiators will be forced to head back to the drawing board to work out new terms for the workers to vote on. This comes as a thorn in the side for Chrysler but with workers having waived their right to strike as part of the government bailout, the smallest of the Detroit Big 3 shouldn’t have to worry about workers walking out due to displeasure with labor talks. The results of the Chrysler-UAW voting was planned to be announced today but with this deadlock between the two groups, there is no way of knowing how long it will be before Chrysler workers have a new contract.

Other Chrysler News:
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Chrysler expands the 2012 Ram Power Wagon lineup
Marchionne confirms diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee for 2013
Major Chrysler UAW locals vote "no" on the new contract
Marchionne: no more Dodge Caravan after 2012

Source: Automotive News