UAW Chrysler Contract Heading Down the Tubes
"At one point, Aaron Taylor, a top regional UAW representative, took to a loudspeaker system. 'Don't listen to these outsiders!' Taylor yelled at employees of the Jefferson North assembly plant. 'This is the best deal. Just listen and read the facts and you will know.'" The Detroit News reports that the United Auto Workers (UAW) workers in a fourth large assembly plant were unmoved by Mr. Taylor's entreaties. According to "local officials," 56.7 percent of 1,100 production workers and 79.5 percent of 195 skilled trades workers rejected the contract. The numbers are instructive: the production workers are the employees least likely to suffer from the proposal's "two tier" wage structure. Reading between the lines, the new contract's lack of iron-clad job guarantees has these workers spooked. This weekend's no vote comes hot on the heels of a similar snub by UAW members at Chrysler's St. Louis and Newark, Delaware plant (which is scheduled for closure). And now… "The fate of the deal may rest in the hands of workers who will vote this week at several large Metro Detroit factories: Warren Truck, Sterling Heights Assembly and stamping operations in each city. Collectively the four facilities employ 9,500 UAW members. Locals at the Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant and four factories in Kokomo, Ind., also vote this week." Look for the UAW to re-double their efforts to "convince" members of the deal's wisdom, and stand by for our take on what might happen next.
So, if they don't take it, will Chrysler be able to shut them out? If they do take it, will Chrysler have the flexibility it needs to shut factories? If not, this is just about angels dancing on the head of a pin.
I tend to believe that Chrysler is ready to play hard-ball. They seem to be in a position where a strike won't hurt them for several weeks - long enough to starve their employees. This could turn ugly for the rank and file, should they decide to push back.