The fate of the tentative contract agreement between
the United Auto Workers and Chrysler LLC remained in question
Tuesday, with a union local in Detroit saying it approved the deal
and officials awaiting vote tallies from four factories in Kokomo,
Six local unions representing more than 11,000 workers have
turned down the landmark pact, while five locals representing about
8,200 workers have said ``yes.'' It's nearly impossible to keep a
running total because most local union officials give out only
percentages and not the number of people who voted.
Yet with large chunk of the 45,000 workers covered by the
contract still voting, UAW leaders in Detroit have started a heavy
lobbying campaign for passage. Four more large locals in suburban
Detroit are scheduled to vote on Wednesday.
Counts by the international union show the deal passing with just
over 50 per cent of the vote, according to a person who has been
briefed on the vote count. The person did not want to be identified
because the count has not been made public.
But a dissident, Shawn Fain, a worker at a Kokomo casting plant,
said so many large locals have voted against the deal that it cannot
``I don't believe for a second that they can have the votes that
close,'' he said.
On Monday, Local 51 representing 1,200 workers at two engine
plants in Detroit voted 76 per cent in favour, said Lorenzo Poole
III, local president.
Poole said he told his members that they should trust UAW
international officials who got the best deal they could from the
company. The deal was reached Oct. 10 after a six-hour strike.
``If we go back out on strike, who knows how long we'd be out
there?'' said Poole, who believes dissidents are spreading
misinformation about the pact.
``I think a lot of the people that are voting no are just misled
or uninformed,'' he said.
UAW workers haven't rejected a national contract since Chrysler
employees did in 1982, said Mike Smith, director of the Walter P.
Reuther Library at Wayne State University.
Opponents mainly object to a lower-tier wage scale for many new
hires of around $14 per hour and new vehicle guarantees for
factories that mainly run for the life of the contract but are less
than General Motors Corp. guaranteed workers in its contract
If the contract is voted down, the UAW could return to the
bargaining table or call for a revote.
``It's going to be close. They're going to work very hard here at
the end to pull this together,'' David Cole, chairman of the Center
for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said Monday.
Chrysler sells most of its vehicles in North America and has
little global presence. Its new owner, private equity firm Cerberus
Capital Management LP, needs a partner to give it the global economy
of scale that its main competitor, GM, already is using, Cole said.
Without a competitive wage agreement, no partner will join
Chrysler, and that could make Cerberus look for other options to get
a return on its investment, such as selling off the company in
``I don't think the membership at Chrysler really quite
understands the gravity of the situation,'' Cole said.
Chrysler, he said, is likely to cut models, so it can't guarantee
next-generation products for individual plants like GM did, he said.