UAW members hesitate on Chrysler pact

A member of the United Auto Workers enters a union hall near Chrysler's Belvidere Assembly plant in Belvidere, Ill.

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TESS VIGELAND: Back in July when the Big Three car makers started negotiating with the United Autoworkers Union, everybody agreed the talks would be interesting. Mostly, they speculated, because for the first time the workers needed the companies as much as the other way around. Motor City heaved a sigh of relief when the news came that a deal had been reached with Chrysler. But those sighs may have been slightly premature. Alisa Roth explains.

ALISA ROTH: Chrysler workers have until the end of next week to ratify the new contract. But yesterday, workers at a plant in St. Louis rejected the offer. And it looks like other workers may follow suit.

Brett Ward drives a forklift at a Chrysler plant north of Detroit.

Brett Ward: I'm going to vote no, and I have encouraged others to do so.

He's anxious about everything from the two-tiered wage system to the lack of job security. In the past, the UAW hammered out a contract with one company and the other two pretty much signed off on it. This time, the union struck a deal with General Motors. But Chrysler workers say it's a lousy fit for them.

Argus Research analyst Kevin Tynan says the problem is the American automakers aren't the three of a kind they once were.

Kevin Tynan: In this case the needs are just so different that you can't take what the union did with GM and apply it to Chrysler and Ford. The situations are just way too different.

If Chrysler workers do reject the contract, negotiations will have to start over. That could mean another strike. Either way, the UAW could be in for a bumpy ride. It's still in negotiations with Ford. And it's anybody's guess how those will turn out.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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