Worker approval of Chrysler-UAW contract imminent

Workers must ratify Chrysler and the UAW's contract before it takes effect. / WNWO archive

A Detroit-area union is supporting a new labor contract with Chrysler Group, giving the agreement a boost after "no" votes at other key locals.

An official at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant says 53 percent of those voting supported the new contract. The plant employs 2,400 assembly workers who make the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 200.

Chrysler and the United Auto Workers reached the agreement last week, but it must be ratified by workers.

The UAW isn't releasing votes from individual plants, so it's unclear how close the contract is to passing. But progress has been bumpy, with large locals in Belvidere, Ill., and Warren, Mich., rejecting the agreement. Voting ends next week.

"The UAW did a very skillful job of communicating to the Chrysler workers that Chrysler is a special case," said Gary Chaison, a professor of labor studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. to The Detroit News. "The UAW was essentially saying, 'If we push too hard at Chrysler, we may win the battle, but we'll lose the war.'"

Chrysler's contract is less generous than those already ratified by workers at General Motors and Ford. The company has yet to post a profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.

"Chrysler has a bright future, but it's still very much off in the distance," Chaison said. "It shows that collective bargaining works. Moderation can be negotiated."

Read more: The Detroit News