Local union leaders voted overwhelmingly Monday to
recommend approval of a tentative four-year agreement between the
United Auto Workers and Chrysler LLC, paving the way for a vote by
members, UAW president Ron Gettelfinger said.
Chrysler workers would see gains of US$10,235 over the life of
the agreement, according to a UAW booklet of contract highlights
obtained by The Associated Press. Chrysler also would contribute
$10.3 billion toward the creation of a union-run trust for retiree
health care. The union said it reversed a company plan to sell its
parts division and a parts-trucking operation as part of the
The booklet also said the contract provides ``unprecedented
product guarantees'' to protect thousands of jobs and maintain a
U.S. manufacturing base.
The voice vote approving the tentative agreement came after a
four-hour meeting at which national bargaining committee members
explained the deal to several hundred local leaders.
``Anytime that you go into a council, anybody can raise their
hand and raise any issue they want,'' Gettelfinger told reporters
after the meeting. ``A lot of people are concerned about a
particular issue that impacts them.
``There was a lot of discussion around all the aspects of the
agreement, which we're very pleased with, and we're happy that it
was overwhelmingly recommended.''
Bryce Cobb Jr., president of UAW Local 372 in Trenton, said a
minority of those in attendance opposed the tentative agreement.
Several union leaders said there was some dissent over the
contract's job security provisions, which were less extensive than
those in a contract reached earlier between the UAW and General
Motors Corp. According to the booklet, 13 of the 21 plants listed
appear to have no new products beyond the current generation of what
they now produce. But the UAW said it was able to reverse a decision
to close a Toledo, Ohio machining facility that makes torque
converters and steering columns.
GM's contract promised workers $13,056 in gains over the life of
the agreement, or $2,821 more than Chrysler's tentative contract.
``It was not unanimous, but it was a big vote for it,'' said Ross
Rushing, a shop committeeman from Local 72 in Kenosha, Wis., who
said he was satisfied with the deal. ``Our bargaining committee did
the best they could.''
Chrysler's national UAW contract covers about 45,000 active
workers and 78,000 retirees and spouses. A majority of active
workers must vote for the contract for it to take effect. The UAW
hasn't determined when voting will begin, Gettelfinger said.
Chrysler and the UAW reached the tentative agreement Wednesday
after a six-hour strike.
Chrysler and the UAW haven't released details, but much of the
agreement mirrors GM's. There are some guarantees that vehicles will
be produced at U.S. factories, a company-funded union-run trust that
will pay much of Chrysler's $18 billion in long-term retiree health
care costs and a lower wage scale for some newly hired workers. GM
workers voted to approve their agreement last week.
Gettelfinger said he hoped for a two-thirds ratification margin
among Chrysler workers, similar to the GM approval.
The UAW now moves on to Ford Motor Co., the last of the Detroit
Three without an agreement with the union. On Monday, Gettelfinger
said he had been negotiating with Ford as recently as Friday.
``We're continuing to work with them now. They're combing through
the agreement, obviously, at Chrysler, and we're getting ready to
start up,'' Gettelfinger said of the Ford talks.
At an event Monday to kick off manufacturing of the 2008 Ford
Focus, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and chief UAW-Ford negotiator Bob King
said they wouldn't discuss the negotiations but said the company and
the union have a good relationship.
``This negotiation is one more opportunity to improve over our
competitors,'' Mulally said amid a tour of the Wayne plant where the
Focus is made.
Chrysler, which has 24 U.S. manufacturing facilities, became a
private company shortly after the contract talks began in July. The
private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP bought a majority
share of Chrysler from Daimler AG in a $7.4 billion transaction.