URGENT UAW Council Approves Tentative Pact
DETROIT (AP) _ Local leaders of the United Auto Workers endorsed a tentative contract with Chrysler Corp. on Thursday, bringing the union a step closer to ending a $15 million-a-day strike by 70,000 Chrysler workers.
The union’s Chrysler Council overwhelmingly approved the agreement in a voice vote.
″I am very happy for the Chrysler workers, who helped keep the company away from the brink of bankruptcy,″ UAW President Owen Bieber said after the meeting. ″This closes the door on concessions. It is an era behind us.″
Rank-and-file union members will vote on the pact over the weekend, with results expected to be announced Sunday evening.
″The report I get from my members is that they’re ready to go back to work,″ Frank McKinnon, president of UAW Local 961 in Detroit, said earlier. ″I would expect that the vote ... would be upwards of 95 percent in favor.″
UAW President Owen Bieber, who forged the agreement reached Wednesday, gathered the 170-member council at a hotel in downtown Detroit to explain the contract. Council members take his message back to union members and lobby them to vote in favor of the settlement.
Bieber, who forged the agreement reached Wednesday, gathered the 170-member council at a hotel in downtown Detroit to explain the contract. Council members will take his message back to union members and lobby them to vote in favor of the settlement.
A summary of the tentative contract released Thursday by the union said the average Chrysler worker would receive a $2,120 lump sum immediately to compensate for ″the enormous sacrifices Chrysler workers made toward the survival of the corporation,″ as well as pay raises over the three-year agreement.
The union said that, assuming a 4 percent annual inflation rate, $5,650 will be added to the typical Chrysler worker’s regular earnings over the three years of the contract in wage increases and cost of living payments alone. The lump sum payments and profit sharing will come to an estimated $4,400 or more over the three years.
The union did not gain strict controls on the subcontracting of parts work by Chrysler. However, the contract would create a committee of three union and three management members who would oversee rules that both sides agreed to govern subcontracting.
Jon Hughey, chairman of UAW Local 1226 in Indianapolis, said the workers he represents at a Chrysler electrical plant will be pleased with the job security provisions of the tentative contract.
″It isn’t everything we wanted, we would love to have had an iron-clad impossibility of closing a plant,″ Hughey said. ″But I think they did everything they could. I’ve never seen an agreement that so totally addressed all areas. I won’t have any problem selling this.″
Jesse Murff, a delegate from Local 550 at the Chrysler foundry in Indianapolis, said of the new contract: ″It give pretty good job security.″
A contract covering 10,000 members of the separate Canadian autoworkers union, who struck simultaneously Oct. 16, was ratified Monday and they returned to work.
However, more than a third of the 2,000 employees at the Chrysler Canada Ltd. plant in Ajax, Ontario, have been laid off because of the continuing U.S. strike.
The layoffs are due to a backlog of trim parts, said Chrysler spokesman Walt McCall. He said 750 Ajax employees will be laid off next week with 290 of them remaining out of work for a second week.
Production at the other three Chrysler plants in Canada, including the assembly plants for the company’s popular minivans and fullsize vans, has been cut to half shifts, McCall said.
″We hope to have things back to normal in a week or so,″ said McCall. ″We’re doing a bit of a shuffle with the inventory and will be checking the situation from day to day.″
The tentative U.S. contract generally conforms to the pattern set a year ago at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.
Chrysler said the three-year agreement would cost the company at least $1 billion more than the contract that expired last week.
Auto industry analysts have said the strike was costing the No. 3 domestic automaker upwards of $15 million a day.
Chrysler workers, who now make $13.23 an hour, would get a average wage increase of 2.25 percent in base wages in the first year of the contract and an average lump-sum payment of 2.25 percent in the second year. In the third year, they would get an average 3 percent wage increase. A cost of living formula is retained.
Like the GM and Ford pacts, the Chrysler agreement contains penalty payments for excessive overtime and a large fund, called a job bank, to pay for the retraining of high-seniority workers displaced by automation and productivity improvements.