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UAW Hourly Workers Approve Chrysler Contract

But rejection by skilled trades workers raises problems.

by on Oct.26, 2011

Chrysler workers barely approved their new contract.

Members of the United Auto Workers Union have ratified their new four-year labor agreement with Chrysler Group LLC but also opened the door to protests inside the company that union leaders could find difficult to control.

The new agreement covers approximately 26,000 hourly and salaried workers employed by Chrysler in the U.S.

The vote tally was released barely a week after Ford workers approved their own contract by a two-to-one majority.  At Chrysler the results were significantly closer, the “Yes” vote totaling only 55%.  And even then, the union had to resort to a procedural maneuver after skilled tradesmen voted down their portion of the contract by 69 percent to 31 percent.

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“Because a majority of UAW skilled trades members voted against the tentative hourly agreement, under the UAW Constitution, the UAW International Executive Board (IEB) investigated the reasons skilled members voted against the proposed agreement and determined that these reasons were predominantly economic and not unique to skilled trades members.  Accordingly, the IEB declared the agreements ratified under the UAW Constitution,” the union said in a statement.

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UAW Ratifies GM Contract by 2-1 Margin

Talks pick up pace at Ford, Chrysler.

by on Sep.28, 2011

UAW President Bob King confirmed the GM contract had been ratified by a 2-1 margin.

The United Auto Workers Union’s rank-and-file has approved a new four-year contract with General Motors by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

The new four-year contract is effective immediately and also is expected to lead to the creation of 6,500 new jobs over the next couple of years at GM plants in the U.S. – perhaps more as it may prompt GM to bring work back to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada.

The final vote tally was 65% in favor of the agreement among production workers, and 63% in favor among skilled trades workers. Retirees, many of whom were angered by contract lack of pension improvements, were not eligible to vote.

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The vote in favor of the contract while more than enough to ensure passage was actually  low by historical standards, indicating a sizeable number of union members were dissatisfied with the pact.  And it suggests the union could face rugged ratification votes after it settles contracts with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC

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UAW Intensifies Talks at Ford, Chrysler

Despite concerns, meanwhile, GM workers appear ready to approve their new contract.

by on Sep.27, 2011

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne with UAW President Bob King.

United Auto Workers Union negotiators have intensified talks with the Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC as the union pushes for settlements with both automakers.

Obstacles, however, remain including the union’s desire to win a larger signing bonus than at GM, which agreed to a $5,000 one-time payment in a tentative agreement finalized earlier this month.

The GM agreement, meanwhile, appears to be winning solid support among the rank-and-file despite concerns about the continuation of an unpopular two-tier wage program that nets new employees barely half what veteran line workers earn.

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The UAW has put a focus on wrapping up Ford’s contract as soon as possible taking advantage of the relatively good relationship the two sides have long enjoyed.  But negotiations are also moving forward at Chrysler despite recent news reports suggesting those talks were put on hold as the result of a dispute between CEO Sergio Marchionne and union President Bob King.

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UAW Turns to Ford; Chrysler Talks on Hold

Ford, Chrysler may resist union efforts to duplicate GM contract.

by on Sep.22, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King shakes hands with Ford Chairman Bill Ford as negotiations open in July.

The United Auto Workers union plans to make Ford Motor Co. the focus of the next round of negotiations in its drive to fashion new contracts with domestic automakers as talks with Chrysler are placed on hold.

Chrysler officials have confirmed that the UAW has extended the maker’s contract until October 19th.  Earlier this month, as the September 14th deadline loomed, there were signs Chrysler might, in fact, be the maker likely to come up with the first settlement with the UAW. But a last-minute snag appeared to scuttle the talks and the union went on to reach agreement with General Motors.

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“We look forward to working with the UAW on a new tentative agreement that is fair to our employees and allows Ford to become more competitive,” Ford said in a statement late Wednesday.

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Coming Down to the Wire: Contract Talks Focusing in on GM

Union reportedly seeking “signing bonuses” of up to $10,000.

by on Sep.12, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson and UAW President Bob King shook hands at the opening of contract talks, in July.

Contract talks between the United Auto Workers Union and domestic carmakers are fast approaching the Sept, 14 deadline and UAW negotiators are pushing to wrap up the talks with General Motors and Chrysler first before taking on Ford – the only company the union is legally able to strike this year.

With all three Detroit makers reportedly unwilling to budge with new pay increases or added benefits, labor bargainers are struggling to find something they can take home to members – and are pushing for “signing bonuses” of as much as $10,000 a worker.

Company officials, meanwhile, are dangling the prospect of new U.S. jobs – while that carrot is offset by a stick that threatens to move even more UAW work out of the country.

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There had been much speculation that the UAW would first target Ford, as it is considered the healthiest of the domestic makers – and because the possibility of a strike would appear to give the union more leverage that it might have at GM and Chrysler.  Under terms of their 2009 federal bailouts, those two makers cannot be struck and, should negotiations deadlock, a final decision will be made by an outside arbitrator. But that isn’t how things seem to be working out.

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Lots on the Line as GM Set to Begin Contract Talks with UAW

Maker wants more givebacks, workers want concessions restored. Is a battle brewing?

by on Jul.22, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King doesn't think GM's 2-tier pay structure offers new employees a living wage.

The United Auto Workers Union is set to begin contract negotiations with General Motors Corp. Chrysler Group and Ford Motor in the coming days and, as always, the negotiations with the GM will once again serve as the main event .

After all, Ford hasn’t had a serious labor disruption since Gerald Ford occupied the White House. Even if the talks at Ford turn contentious — and they might — the company still has the option of bringing in executive chairman Bill Ford to smooth over any rough edges. Bill Ford is widely respected inside and has a well-founded reputation for being more than fair with union members.

At Chrysler union leaders and the rank-and-file have been thoroughly charmed by Sergio Marchionne, who has gone out of his way in the past two years to court the UAW. The union leadership at Chrysler has reciprocated, giving Marchionne wide latitude even though, up until this week, they were the technical owners of the company.

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But at GM, the long legacy of bitter fights and mistrust between labor and management still overshadows the negotiations. Both union leaders and GM’s management have made an effort to move on and give the company the equivalent of a post-bankruptcy fresh start.  Nonetheless, labor relations at GM are very much a work in progress.

And that could bring some serious problems as the talks head to a September deadline — even though the terms of GM’s 2009 government bailout bar both a worker strike and management lockout.

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Will UAW Accept More Profit Sharing?

As union opens pre-bargaining conference, automakers set their own strategy.

by on Mar.23, 2011

UAW President Bob King has a tough round of negotiations coming up.

After granting billions of dollars in concessions to help Detroit makers survive the U.S. auto industry’s worst downturn in decades, union workers are looking for some givebacks when they return to the bargaining table this year.  But they may have to share the risks, rather than simply get the enhanced pay and benefits workers could have traditionally expected, observers caution.

The United Auto Workers Union’s senior leaders are gathered in Detroit, this week, to lay out their demands – and work out strategy to go up against makers who are now pushing back into the black while still professing serious financial problems.

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The challenge for the UAW’s new President Bob King will be to navigate a narrow path that would make workers happy, keep Detroit’s Big Three healthy – and head off a potential confrontation that could sour what has become the most positive working relationship between labor and management since the union gained a seat at the table, following the angry confrontations of the 1920s and ‘30s.

“It’s not going to be easy for Bob,” said a well-placed union source asking for anonymity prior to the start of the UAW convention.  “He clearly understands that the auto companies are not out of the woods.  But he also knows he can’t go back to workers and expect them to approve contracts that don’t make up some of their losses.”

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Autoworkers Plan Auto Show Protest

Disgruntled workers want bigger share of industry turnaround.

by on Jan.04, 2011

UAW activists want the newly-resilient Detroit automakers to share some of their wealth.

Disgruntled auto workers are planning to demonstrate outside the North American International Auto Show again this year just as United Auto Workers President Bob King is scheduled to launch a charm offensive the union’s top brass hope will coax workers from non-union plants into joining the UAW.

The demonstration is set for January 9, the day before the Detroit Auto Show’s official press days.

The disgruntled workers are demanding greater militancy from King and the rest of the union leadership, which has committed to finding a way to compromise with executives at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler as well as other automakers.  The UAW has made numerous concessions since 2007, when the last round of domestic contract negotiations took place – and the protests will argue that workers now deserve some of those concession back in light of the profits being rolled up by Detroit’s Big Three.

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Automakers, on the other hand will be under pressure to protect their new profits in order to pay off debt and to satisfy investors, looking for their own share of the carmakers income.

The contrast on display at the auto show is very likely to shape the union’s approach to the negotiations with the domestic carmakers later this year. King is expected to ask for a larger share of company profits in an effort to appease his critics inside the union.

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