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Despite Fears of Rejection, Workers at Ford, GM Ratify Contracts

Approval frees union leaders to shift focus to new organizing efforts.

by on Nov.21, 2015

GM and UAW officials shown on July 13, 2015 marking the opening of contract talk.

Workers at both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors voted to accept each of their new four-year contract offers, in the process ending what had turned into an unexpectedly contentious round of negotiations – workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles soundly rejecting their own first contract offer.

A variety of offers pitted not only the United Auto Workers Union against Detroit’s Big Three but also saw the UAW having to fend off more militant members of the union. Starting with President Dennis Williams on down, Autoworkers leaders mobilized to sell a revised Chrysler contract. But they continued to run into trouble even with more lucrative offers from GM and Ford.

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At the smaller of the two, 51.3% of production workers and 52.4% of Ford’s skilled tradesmen voted for the contract. Among other things, that vote will earn 53,000 Ford workers ratification bonuses of $8,500.

“Through a fair and democratic process UAW-Ford members have delivered job security and strong economic gains for their families and communities,” said Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW’s Ford department.


UAW Going After Jeep Plants for Strike

Union likely to hit Jeep Wrangler facilities in Ohio.

by on Oct.07, 2015

Now that the UAW has authorized a strike, speculation about which FCA facilities will be targeted focuses on Jeep sites.

If the negotiators can’t come close to working out terms of a new contract proposal, the United Auto Workers is likely to target three key FCA U.S. plants, including the Jeep complex in Toledo, Ohio, for possible local strikes, according to sources familiar with the UAW’s evolving strategy.

Unless the two sides can break the impasse by 11:59 p.m. tonight, the trans-Atlantic automaker could be hit by the first major walkout in the auto industry since well before the start of the devastating recession that sent the former Chrysler Corp. into bankruptcy.

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“FCA US confirms that it has received strike notification from the UAW,” the maker said in a brief statement released Tuesday afternoon. “The company continues to work with the UAW in a constructive manner to reach a new agreement.” (more…)

UAW Ready to Strike at Fiat-Chrysler

Both sides face tremendous risks.

by on Oct.06, 2015

Things could get rough for FCA this week.

Less than a week after workers rejected a tentative four-year contract, with talks aimed at sweetening the deal going nowhere, the United Auto Workers Union has issued a strike notification to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Unless the two sides can break the impasse by 11:59 PM on Wednesday, the trans-Atlantic automaker could be hit by the first major walkout in the auto industry since well before the start of the devastating recession that sent the former Chrysler Corp. into bankruptcy.

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The impact could be substantial for FCA, but the UAW and its members also could be seriously harmed by a confrontation, something union President Dennis Williams admitted would be a “failure” when contract talks got underway over the summer.


Winners, Losers and American Car Buyers

by on Oct.20, 2011

Who won when GM and the UAW hammered out a new contract? Do consumers really care?

The trouble with our winners-losers society is that it often misses the point of the game.

Consider the recently concluded talks between the United Auto Workers union and Detroit’s car companies.

Critics of those agreements contend that the manufacturers got four years of labor peace for little or nothing. They are missing the point, which is this:

It's Free!

The American consumer, the third and most important party at the bargaining table, does not give a damn.

As long as that remains the case, the UAW should be happy to have any contract at all.

Here’s why:


UAW Lands Big Gains – While GM Also Meets Key Demands

A closer look at the first of the new Big Three contracts.

by on Sep.19, 2011

Now that GM has settled, the UAW will have to focus on Chrysler and Ford - union chief Bob King shown here with Ford CEO Bill Ford.

Negotiators for General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union might have missed their deadline but the settlement they worked out – peacefully – late last Friday appears to be one that qualifies as the clichéd Win-Win for both labor and management.

Official details won’t be released until tomorrow, after UAW bargainers meet with the local union leaders who’ll have to sell the agreement to the rank-and-file.  But significant details are already leaking out and was able to pull together enough to get a clear understanding of why both sides are pleased with what they’ve hammered out.

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The agreement meets some of the union’s key demands, such as a large signing bonus, improved profit-sharing and increases for new workers hired in under a second-tier wage structure.  At the same time, GM will see steps taken to improve the productivity of its U.S. plants, and it appears likely the maker will actually be able to place even more workers, going forward, into the lower, Tier 2 wage category.


UAW Push Falls Short, Deadline Missed

Union, GM and Chrysler miss midnight contract deadline; talks continue.

by on Sep.15, 2011

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne writes an enraged letter to UAW Chief Bob King.

The United Auto Workers fell short in a bold effort to reach an agreements with both General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group as the union’s contracts with the two automakers expired at midnight.

The union push appears to have been hampered by lack of any kind of strike deadline and by a tactical decision that left Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne fuming.

Machionne, having blown off a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to fly back to Detroit from the Frankfurt Motor Show, was clearly irritated by UAW president Bob King’s decision to spend time in the talks at GM as discussions intensified and negotiating sessions stretched into the evening hours.

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Because of continuing discussion with GM, King missed an appointment with Marchionne, who in a toughly worded letter accused the union of slipping back into an adversarial role. “We have known about this expirations date for a long time,” Marchionne wrote.

The missed appointment could delay a settlement at Chrysler by as much as a week.


Contract Deadline Hours Away, Ford and UAW Agree to Extension

Union focusing on GM, Chrysler for new contract.

by on Sep.14, 2011

For the moment, at least, the UAW has delayed the threat of a strike at Ford.

The United Auto Workers has backed away from a potential strike at the Ford Motor Co. by approving an indefinite contract extension with the automaker.

The current UAW contract was scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday and the union could have automatically called a strike. Union members approved a strike at Ford earlier this month.

“I can confirm that Ford and the UAW have agreed to continue bargaining past the expiration of the current contract in an effort to reach a tentative agreement that is in the best interest of both parties,” said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans.

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“At this time,” she added, “we are not going to provide further comment about the nature of our discussions, or speculate about timing or the potential outcome of our talks,” Evans.

Meanwhile, the UAW continues to negotiate with General Motors and Chrysler in anticipation of reaching a final agreement.


Hopes Fading for Quick Settlement in Auto Talks

Two-tier wages could be sticking point.

by on Aug.30, 2011

UAW President King insists the U.S. is not broke.

Chances for a quick and amiable settlement in contract talks between the United Auto Workers Union and Ford Motor Co, General Motors and Chrysler Group appear to be fading as labor and management head towards their Sept. 14th deadline.

Both sides continue to put a positive spin on the pace of talks – at least for public consumption – but sticking points are starting to develop.  The union, for one, is taking an increasing tough tone on the two-tier wage system the Big Three insist they need to stay competitive.  And, the manufacturers warn, that without a sense they can remain on a cost par with their foreign competitors they will need to consider exporting more jobs.

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On the other hand, the makers are also dangling a carrot, suggesting that labor peace could lead to significant job creation in a domestic industry that has seen its job base shrivel over the last several decades.

The two-tier wage debate has spurred angry talk – and some local demonstrations – in recent weeks, though UAW president Bob King continues to insist he is “upbeat” about the prospects for reaching a peaceful resolution.


Detroit Auto Talks Emphasize Cooperation over Confrontation.

Two-tier wages could present a sticking point, however.

by on Aug.04, 2011

UAW President King wants creative solutions.

Negotiations between Chrysler and the United Auto Workers are off to a good start, the automaker’s top executive says, while United Auto Workers Union chief Bob King continues to stress cooperation over confrontation.

“The tone of the dialogue so far has been incredibly productive,” Chrysler/Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said during the Center for Automotive Research’s annual Management Briefing Seminars.

Talks between the UAW, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors began last week in Detroit and the first contract should be completed by mid-September.  This year’s talks are unique in that terms of the 2009 federal automotive bailouts bar the union from striking either GM or Chrysler – while few expect a confrontation at Ford, either, where there hasn’t been a strike in nearly a third of a century.

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UAW president Bob King said the union is more committed than ever to working with the automakers in negotiating a contract that would leave them globally competitive.  The union eventually will focus on one maker to come up with a “pattern” contract it can then press for at the other two domestic manufacturers – though industry observers believe that the final settlements could be more unique than ever before, reflecting the wide differences between GM, Ford and Chrysler.


Smiles for the Cameras – But Serious Issues Nag Ford/UAW Talks

Two sides press for labor peace.

by on Aug.01, 2011


UAW President Bob King shares a ceremonial handshake with Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr.

Despite some differences over pay and jobs, officials from the Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers Union insist they are committed to resolving their differences over terms of the new contract without a strike.

Talks were delayed by the Friday announcement of a new federal fuel economy standard – Ford CEO Alan Mulally and UAW President Bob King among those attending a White House ceremony.  It’s unclear whether that gave them an opportunity to discuss some of the very real challenges that face Ford, the last of the Detroit Big Three to sit down at the bargaining table.


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The only domestic maker that could even face a strike – due to the terms of the 2009 General Motors and Chrysler bailouts – Ford has had more than 30 years of cordial relations with the UAW.  But both sides have nagging issues that they intend to resolve over the next six weeks.  Ford Ford, there’s the challenge of remaining competitive. For Ford workers, the emphasis will be on jobs – though the large bonuses paid to Mulally and other senior managers is a big sticking point, especially if workers are asked to make further concessions.

But as the cameras rolled while bargainers extended the traditional, ceremonial handshake, Ford Chairman Bill Ford aimed to set a positive tone, suggesting the event was, “like welcoming old friends back.”