Chrysler workers have reached a split decision.
A majority of United Auto Worker production members have voted to ratify a new contract with the automaker. But UAW skilled trade members rejected the deal on Wednesday afternoon.
UAW leaders discussed the vote on a 1 p.m. conference call and have not yet announced how they intend to proceed, according to the Detroit Free Press, which broke news of the split vote. No precedent exists for resolving a split vote.
“I don’t remember this ever happening,” Art Schwartz, a former GM labor negotiator, tells the newspaper. “It’s never happened in my memory in a national agreement.”
Precise results from the votes have yet to be released. CBS-TV has also reported that the tally is split.
The Soldiers of Solidarity, a splinter group within the UAW that has traditionally opposed concessions, published a laundry list of complaints about the tentative Chrysler contract on its website.
Among their complaints: No reparations are included for past concessions, no cost-of-living allowances, and no parity with the already-ratified Ford and General Motors contracts.
Chrysler’s financial position is more precarious than its fellow automakers. It lost $254 million in the first half of 2011, while GM earned a profit of $5.7 billion and Ford earned $4.9 billion.
What comes next? That’s unknown. Under terms of the federal bailout, Chrysler workers cannot strike, so it seems two options would constitute either a return to the bargaining table or binding arbitration.