) - A majority of


workers have voted to ratify a four-year contract.

The United Auto Workers said Wednesday that 55% of Chrysler workers voted for the agreement, with 45% opposed. Among salaried bargaining unit members, the vote was 69% in favor, but among skilled trades workers, 56% were opposed. The UAW represents 26,000 Chrysler workers, including 3,000 salaried workers, at 48 plants.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne

Because a majority of skilled trades workers voted against the deal, the UAW International Executive Board investigated. It determined that the reasons were economic, and not unique to skilled trades members, and as a result declared the agreements ratified.

"With this agreement, we have made significant progress in times of economic uncertainty," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, in a prepared statement. "We were able to make headway in bridging the gap between the new hire pay and that of the existing workforce, return some of the benefits that members previously gave up to help the company survive, and win new jobs and investment in UAW plants."

"It's not everything our members deserve, but we did the best we could in these uncertain times and negotiated an agreement that will ensure Chrysler's viability," he said.

The Chrysler deal includes a $4.5 billion investment in Chrysler plants and adds 2,100 new UAW jobs. In all, new contracts negotiated with Chrysler,


(F) - Get Report



(GM) - Get Report

will 20,000 new U.S. jobs. "The UAW and the domestic auto companies are jump-starting the nation's economic recovery," said UAW President Bob King.

At GM, a tentative agreement reached on Sept. 16 was ratified on Sept. 28. At Ford, a tentative agreement reached on Oct. 4 was ratified on Oct. 19. The tentative agreement with Chrysler was reached on Oct. 12.

--Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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