Reporting Jeff Gilbert
DETROIT (WWJ) – The third and final UAW deal with a domestic carmaker has been ratified, but not without a lot of controversy.
Chrysler workers voted for the deal by a 55 percent margin, but 56 percent of skilled trades workers—who are their own voting category—said no. Skilled trades workers are electricians, and others in auto plants, who perform very specialized work.
“Skilled trades has a separate right on issues that pertain to skilled trades only,” said UAW President Bob King. “On issues that pertain to everybody, it’s a majority vote. That’s what democracy is.”
After the results became clear, King and other UAW leaders met, talked with local Chrysler leaders, and determined that the objections to the deal were not related to skilled trades issues, but economic issues.
“If you look at Facebook, or your look at leaflets that some of the skilled trades who were opposed to the agreement put out, they were about split bonus. They were about not enough money. They were about economic issues,” said King.
Shortly after the decision, many workers opposed to the deal were venting on the UAW Facebook page.
“So the “democratic” union lets us vote but the votes just don’t count. Nice, real nice,” said one worker. Others asked how the UAW leadership has the right to make this decision. “I smell a rat.”
Many Chrysler workers were concerned about bonuses that were smaller than those agreed to at Ford and General Motors. The union has said that Chrysler was not as far along in its recovery.
Opponents do have a right of appeal. But, it’s not certain if they will pursue it, or what their chances of success are. King says there was a similar issue at Ford in 1973, and a similar union decision was upheld on appeal.
King defended the decision as being in line with the union’s constitution.
“We went with what the majority of members, almost a 55 percent majority, said that they thought this agreement should be ratified. So, that’s what we did.”
If the decision is not reversed, this ends the 2011 bargaining between the UAW and the domestic three. Deals with General Motors and Ford have already been ratified. In all cases, the votes were relatively close. King says he’s not surprised.
“We respect our membership. We know the struggles they are going through. We understand why there’s some frustration.”