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Published: Tuesday, 11/8/2011

Group petitions to void Chrysler pact with UAW


DETROIT — The dissident group Autoworkers Caravan has filed a petition with the United Auto Workers on behalf of Chrysler Group LLC skilled-trades workers, appealing the union’s decision to ratify its new contract with the automaker over their objections.

Although the majority of UAW members voted for the contract, the majority of skilled-trades workers voted against it. Union rules require contracts to be ratified by both skilled trades and production workers, but UAW leaders meeting in closed session Oct. 26 voted to overturn that veto and sign the agreement.

“We voted down the tentative agreement. But they used a procedural loophole to ratify it,” said Alex Wassell, an Autoworkers Caravan member employed at the Warren Stamping Plant. “We think it’s a very bad agreement and a very bad precedent, and we’re going to do everything we can to overturn it.”

The UAW had no comment on the petition. UAW President Bob King said union leaders threw out the skilled-trades’ vote because their veto was driven by economic issues rather than issues pertaining to skilled trades, noting a majority of the entire UAW voted for ratification.

But George Windau, a worker at Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly complex who started the petition, said Mr. King and other union leaders had decided how they would rule before the meeting began.

“We were not asked why we voted no,” he said. “Our voices need to be honored and heard.”

He asked that the contract not be finalized until the union hears the appeal.

The UAW has officially informed Chrysler of the contract’s ratification. A source familiar with the situation said workers will not receive signing bonuses until the document is signed.

The appeal is likely to result in a hearing before the union’s public review board, an independent body made up primarily of experts in labor law, labor relations, and ethics.

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