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3 more UAW locals in U.S. reject controversial Chrysler agreement

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Workers at three more United Auto Workers local unions have rejected a tentative contract agreement between the national union and Chrysler LLC, casting doubt on whether the deal will be ratified.

Members at locals in Missouri, Ohio and Delaware voted against the deal Friday and Saturday even as union leaders from Detroit spent the later part of the week lobbying for ``yes'' votes.

The contract failed Saturday at Local 110 in Fenton, Missouri, one of Chrysler's largest, with 2,781 hourly workers at the South Assembly Plant. The vote was surprising because the plant makes Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan minivans, which are brand new for 2008 and expected to be top sellers, providing job security for several years.

Although final totals from the 45,000 workers voting on the pact will not be made known until next week, the size and locations of the locals voting ``no'' are not good signs for leaders in Detroit, said Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who specializes in labor issues.

``The early results are abysmal,'' Shaiken said. ``Members have sent a message of considerable unrest.''

Dissident union members have used the Internet to express opposition to the pact, and the UAW's national Chrysler negotiating chairman, Bill Parker, president of a local in suburban Detroit's Sterling Heights, has come out against it.

If the contract is rejected by UAW members, it would be the first time in at least two decades that has happened, Shaiken said.

The agreement was reached Oct. 10 after a six-hour strike, the same day the union announced that General Motors Corp. workers had approved a similar contract. If Chrysler workers vote it down, negotiators must go back to the bargaining table.

The UAW said negotiators were able to fend off the company's demand for wage cuts of US$1.01 per hour and cost-of-living adjustment delays, according to a booklet summarizing the deal. They also saved about 1,500 jobs at the Toledo, Ohio, machining plant, which was slated to close.

But 14 of 21 factories listed in the booklet have no future products to make after the current product life cycle or the life of the new contract. Seven were to get future products.

Like the GM deal, the union won a moratorium on plant closing and outsourcing. The outsourcing ban on noncore work will keep 8,000 jobs, the booklet said.

Richard McDonaugh Jr., president of Local 1183 at Chrysler's Newark, Delaware, assembly plant, said Saturday that the contract failed at his local by a vote a 54 per cent to 46 per cent. The local represents 1,100 hourly UAW members.

McDonaugh said the Newark plant is scheduled to be closed by the company.

Messages were left with UAW spokesman Roger Kerson in Detroit.

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3 more UAW locals in U.S. reject controversial Chrysler agreement
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