DETROIT -- A group of UAW dissidents is appealing the union's decision to ratify its new contract with Chrysler Group because skilled-trades workers voted down the pact, according to newspaper reports.
The UAW said Oct. 26 it would ratify the contract because 55 percent of voting workers approved it. While production workers OK'd the contract, 56 percent of skilled-trades workers turned it down.
"We voted down the tentative agreement. But they used a procedural loophole to ratify it," Alex Wassell, a member of the UAW dissident group Autoworkers Caravan in Warren, Mich., told The Detroit News on Saturday. "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."
UAW spokeswoman Michele Martin declined comment on the matter.
The News reported that the formal UAW-Chrysler contract has not yet been signed. Until it is signed, workers will not receive their initial signing bonuses of $1,750 each for approving the contract, the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed source familiar with the situation.
A Chrysler spokesperson said the automaker would have no comment.
The appeal may be the subject of a hearing by the UAW's public review board, The News said, but it's unclear how long that process could take.
When a majority of the union's skilled trades members voted against the agreement, the union's executive board investigated the reasons.
The board determined that the reasons for rejection were "predominantly economic and not unique to skilled trades members," the union said in a statement on Oct. 26 after it ratified the Chrysler pact.
If the union had determined that the issues were specific to skilled trades, it would have gone back to Chrysler to try to negotiate changes, UAW President Bob King said at the time.
Under the union's constitution, skilled trades issues can be separated from the rest of the union, but only if the issues are specific to their work, the UAW says.
"Skilled trades can't override production," King told reporters after the Chrysler deal was ratified. "It's whatever the majority votes on the overall contract, the overall economics of the contract."
King said at the time that individuals might challenge the decision to ratify the Chrysler pact through internal UAW appeals, and that is their right under the UAW constitution.
And he described the union's appeals process as one of the labor movement's "most democratic."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story, quoting The Detroit News, said UAW spokeswoman Michele Martin indicated 200 dissidents signed the petition and that it was in the hands of the UAW's legal department. Martin told Automotive News by e-mail today that she did not tell anyone 200 people signed the petition. She also said that as of Friday the UAW had not received an appeal.