Union Workers Ratify Jeep Contract
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A United Auto Workers union official says Jeep plant workers’ overwhelming approval of a five-year contract with Chrysler Corp. drives home the point that workers want Jeep to stay in Toledo.
The workers ratified the contract by a vote of 3,243 to 309 on Monday, union officials said.
Chrysler and the UAW have said the contract, which covers 5,800 hourly workers, would ensure that Jeep will remain in Toledo for at least five years.
″The margin is probably one of the biggest ever at that plant. We’re really pleased,″ said Dan Twiss, president of UAW Local 12. ″The message that the people at the Toledo Jeep plant sent to Chrysler is a very positive one. It shows that we do want to keep the Jeep plant in Toledo.″
A company spokesman was not available for comment Monday night. A message left for him at his home was not returned.
The contract contains job-security provisions similar to recent accords signed at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.
The agreement came out of meetings that began Aug. 24, four days after the union voted to reopen its three-year contract.
The new contract calls for a 2.25 percent wage increase in the first year and a 3 percent lump sum bonus in January. Wage increases or bonuses in the third through fifth year of the contract would be discussed after national contract negotiations in 1988.
Workers at Jeep currently earn $13.21 an hour plus a cost-of-living allowance.
The number of jobs at the plant will be guaranteed over the life of the contract, the union said. If Jeep production increases, some of the 1,300 laid-off workers could be rehired, the union said.
The pact contains provisions to make the plant more efficient, Chrysler and union officials said. It forces employees to work overtime and reduces the steward-to-worker ratio from one to five in a department to one steward for every 300 workers.
Also, some employees will be trained to do more than one job, which would increase production, Chrysler said.
The agreement also calls for workers to receive 55 percent of the money owed to them through an employee investment plan signed with American Motors Corp., the plant’s former owner.
Union members lent more than $40 million to AMC in the form of deferred raises and cost-of-living payments, with the understanding they would be repaid with interest.
The plant now makes 190,000 vehicles a year. Anthony St. John, Chrysler vice president of human resources, said he would like to boost production by 50,000 vehicles a year.
Twiss said he hopes the contract will show Chrysler that the union wants to work with the company, not against it.
″I know we can improve production,″ he said. ″We’re going to do what we can to make sure we’re still here when the contract expires.″