Ballot error causing some UAW-FCA members to revote
Voting by United Auto Workers members on a tentative four-year deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is getting off to a rough start, and it has nothing to do with the contract.
An unknown number of people who cast ballots from 4 a.m. to noon Tuesday at UAW Local 140 in Warren are being asked to revote, according to messages to local union members obtained by The Detroit News.
During the eight-hour period, there was one ballot for both local and national contract agreements: “Do you agree to ratify the National and Local Agreements?” read the ballot, which instructed members to mark “yes” or “no” boxes.
“There was a mistake made on the Ballots,” reads a flier from the Local 140 UAW Election Committee, which asks members to “please come back and vote again” between 4 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday or 4 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sept. 28. “We Sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused.”
It’s unclear if votes cast during the specified time will be thrown out or counted as “yes” or “no” for both contracts. A representative from the local union did not respond to several attempts for comment by The News.
New ballots for Local 140 read the same but have separate vote boxes for the national and local contracts, which are voted on independently because they are separate agreements. The local deal covers individual plant rules and regulations.
Local 140, which represents Fiat Chrysler workers at Warren Truck Plant, is one of, if not the, first local to conduct voting for the proposed deal, which would cover 44,000 members if ratified. UAW President Dennis Williams on Friday said he would like to conclude voting by Sept. 28, but at least one local has its voting scheduled on Sept. 29.
An international UAW spokesman would not comment on the ballot error or voting, as it is up to each local unit to conduct votes.
Union leaders, including UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, started meeting with local chapters over the weekend to discuss the proposed contract, as local chapters schedule informational meetings and votes.
Jewell was at Local 140 on Tuesday answering questions and concerns about the tentative four-year deal, according to members who attended.
Numerous people described the meeting as “smooth,” “subdued” and “calm.”
“It was a good vibe. A lot of questions were asked and people seemed satisfied with the answers,” said Mary Cushingberry, a 20-year UAW veteran worker at Warren Truck Plant. “Overall, I think it went really well.”
The meeting came two days after Jewell’s visit to Local 1700 in Detroit, which many members heard was confrontational. A partial video of the meeting posted on social media featured some tense but productive discussions with mixed reactions.
Charles Bell, president of Local 1700, said in an email to The Detroit News that the “meeting was filled with very vocal members that were comfortable asking tough questions and with the expectation of an honest and clear answer.”
The tentative deal provides wage increases for both tiers of plant workers; hefty profit-sharing — particularly for tier-two, or “in-progression,” workers — based on the company’s North American operations; $3,000 ratification bonuses; $5.3 billion in plant investments; and narrows pay gaps between entry and veteran workers. It does not eliminate contentious issues such as two-tier pay and alternative work schedules, or return to members a cost-of-living adjustment that they gave up some years ago. There’s also some confusion about the announced health care co-op, which Jewell has said will not increase costs for members.
Charlie Darden, a second-tier Local 140 member, said he believes the deal should have provided a cost-of-living adjustment and eliminated the tiers to give equal pay for equal work.
“I’m at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair.”