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The UAW ratifies Chrysler contract despite voting split

Earlier today we brought you the news that the two main groups within Chrysler’s assembly of UAW workers – the production workers and skilled trade workers – had split on whether or not to ratify the new 4-year deal between the labor union and the Chrysler Group but after a brief period of discussion among union officials, the UAW has approved the new contract.

While the public, the union, the automakers and the media all had a pretty good idea of the “scorecard” during the voting process for General Motors and Ford Motor Company, the Chrysler branch of the UAW chose (more like attempted) to keep the results of each individual local undisclosed until all locals had voted and reported their results. Try as they might, the UAW heads weren’t able to silence all talks of the voting results with various numbers reaching the media here and there. However, through the voting period, we did not have a clear idea as to how the voting was going like we did with GM and Ford but earlier today the union spoke – stating that the production workers had voted in favor of the contract while the skilled trade workers voted against the deal.

The immediate reaction by the UAW was to have their leaders meet and decide what to do, with UAW President Bob King stating that ratification was a matter of approval by both groups and not just one; even though the final tally (all production and skilled workers combined) put the “yes” votes up by a margin of 54.75% to 45.25% who voted “no”. Throughout the day, the union executive board examined the cause for the skilled trade workers refusal and in the end, the UAW management decided that their votes were due to "predominantly economic (reasons) and not unique to skilled trades members”. Based on that, the United Auto Workers union announced that they had declared the new 4-year contract with the Chrysler Group ratified.

Chrysler Group and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne offered these comments in light of the UAW announcing their acceptance of the new 4-year contract:
“No one involved in the bargaining process leading to this agreement could forget about our near death experience slightly more than two years ago and the second chance we were given by the American and Canadian taxpayers. The faith that was placed in us then has been fully repaid. This agreement is a credit to our workforce and the UAW leadership. It recognizes the significant contributions they have made toward our continuing recovery. It rewards them for the current and potential future success of the Company while ensuring Chrysler Group will be able to remain competitive.”

Now that the agreement between the Chrysler Group and the UAW has been signed and sealed, all three of the Detroit Big 3 automakers has secured its future with the labor union – preventing any costly work stoppages due to discontent on either side of the negotiations. It likely helped the cause of GM and Chrysler that the union had agreed to drop their right to strike as part of the government “bailout” agreement a few years ago and if nothing else, it surely helped to relieve some of the tension during contract talks. Ford, on the other hand, faced a serious threat of a full blown labor dispute had the deal not been past but like the Chrysler contract, early voting went against the deal while the later voters helped to push it through.

For now, the UAW has finalized agreements with all three of the American automakers so until 2015 or so, they will not have to worry about labor issues but prior to the opening of discussions between each of the Big 3 and the UAW, Bob King commented that those foreign automakers building cars in the US were next. This means that over the next few months, major Japanese and European automakers producing vehicles in this country (Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, etc) may be forced to deal with the UAW as Bob King and his union leaders work to unionize the non-American automaker workforce in the US.

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Major Chrysler UAW locals vote "no" on the new contract
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