UAW Split On Chrysler Contract Approval Widens

If Chrysler workers vote down the tentative labor agreement, negotiators must go back to the bargaining table.

DETROIT (AP) — The fate of a tentative labor agreement at Chrysler LLC remained uncertain after two large United Auto Workers local unions representing about 4,500 of the union's 45,000 members at the automaker split over the deal.
National UAW leaders appeared concerned Sunday about the fate of the agreement, asking all appointed union officials to sign a statement backing the deal.
The contract had already failed in ratification votes Friday and Saturday at three locals in Deleware, Ohio and Missouri. It failed again Sunday in a vote by members of a local in Detroit with about 2,200 UAW members.
But workers at a parts plant in New York went against the trend Sunday, voting 88 percent in favor of the deal. The local represents about 2,300 employees at Chrysler's New Process Gear plant.
''Those gentlemen have gotten us the best deal possible,'' said shop chairman George Welitschinsky.
UAW and Chrysler bargainers reached the national agreement Oct. 10 after a six-hour strike. The deal came 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 four-year contract would establish a union-run, company-funded trust to cover retiree health care. It also would establish lower wages for about 11,000 noncore workers who do not build cars or parts.
It would not raise base pay but would give workers a $3,000 (euro2,099) signing bonus and lump sum payments of 3 or 4 percent in the remaining years.
Last week, UAW Vice President General Holiefield sent a memo to local union leaders asking all appointed union representatives to sign a statement endorsing the agreement.
A message seeking comment was left Sunday with UAW spokesman Roger Kerson.
Associated Press writers David Runk in Detroit and Valerie Bauman in Albany, New York, contributed to this report.
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