To all UAW Brothers and Sisters at Chrysler
I would like to add my voice to those who are calling for a rejection of the recently-negotiated tentative contract with Chrysler corporation. Please vote “NO” against the VEBA system and the two-tier system of employment contained in the tentative contract. VEBA is a proven failure at Caterpillar and the two-tier system undermines union solidarity regarding same pay for same work. Vote “NO.” Sink this contract.
I work at the Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio, and it is true that Jeep workers are UAW Local 12 members, but we are not included in the national Chrysler agreement. We have never been admitted to the UAW Chrysler Council and we were last rejected for admission in January 2003.
At Jeep, we had an eight-year contract shoved down our throats in December 2003 with the economic provisions of this contract spelled out only through 2007. Beyond that point, from 2008 to 2011, the economic part of our 8-year contract will be determined by the national Chrysler agreement that you are voting on now. So, while we UAW Jeep workers cannot vote on the Chrysler contract, it will affect us. All the economic provisions of the Chrysler contract will serve as “pass-throughs” and automatically become part of our 8-year contract at Jeep.
It simply is not fair that we do not get to vote on an economic package that will apply to our members, our pensions, our health care and the work rules for new-hires at Jeep. Even so, I have a right, since your vote will affect my future, to persuade you to sink this tentative contract.
Cerberus investment group, which purchased Chrysler from Daimler, has no real interest in the long-term health of the Chrysler corporation. Cerberus plans to close plants, cut product lines and chop Chrysler up, piece by piece, and sell off parts of Chrysler in order to recover its investment and make a quick profit. The sale of Chrysler, by Daimler, to Cerberus, was a rigged deal, not the outcome of a fair bidding process.
Daimler has no reason to want a healthy Chrysler corporation that may, one day, compete in markets that Daimler operates in. So, the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus was rigged. I know this to be so, because I was on the Chrysler Employee-Ownership Buy-Out Committee.
Yes, a small group of Jeep union workers, acting rapidly as representatives of all Chrysler workers, tried to purchase Chrysler from Daimler, (we presented our proposal to the DaimlerChrysler stockholders meeting in Berlin in April 2007) to make Chrysler an Employee-Owned operation. Neither our bid, (based on $20 billion in credit from 5 U.S. banks), nor the bid of Mr. Kirk Kerkorian was honored as in a fair bidding system where the highest bidder wins the sale. Our rights, as interested parties to the sale, were not respected and key financial information at J.P. Morgan regarding Chrysler’s financial health, was never made available to us or our financial backers.
Only Cerberus was given access to Chrysler’s accounting books, no other bidder nor interested party, not even the UAW, could view these books.
Vote “No” on this tentative contract at Chrysler. Let Cerberus know that we will not swallow concessions just so they can quickly recover their investments and make a handsome profit. Let Cerberus know that we know what they plan to do to Chrysler, to our jobs, to our new-hires, to our products and to our pensions and health care. Chrysler is not the “sick man” of the U.S. auto industry so Cerberus does not NEED any concessions from us. Neither do they deserve concessions from Chrysler workers just so they can chop Chrysler into pieces and feed the pieces to vultures.
If you want a real future at Chrysler, in a healthy company, then YOU must make it happen. Take the first step and sink this contract. Vote “No” and demand the future you want and deserve.
In Solidarity, George Windau
George Windau is a Skilled Trades worker at Chrysler-Jeep and member of UAW Local 12, Toledo, Ohio.
Soldiersofsolidarity.com, October 21, 2007