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UAW Foresees Labor Contract with Volkswagen Plant

Maker’s recognition at Chattanooga facility first step in process.

by on Dec.10, 2014

Gary Casteel, the UAW's Secretary Treasurer, said VW's recognition opens the door for discussions on any number of topics. (Photo credit: UAW)

The United Auto Workers expects Volkswagen’s recognition of the union at the company’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will lead ultimately to a labor contract with the German automaker.

Gary Casteel, the UAW’s Secretary Treasurer and leader of the union’s organizing effort in Chattanooga, said Volkswagen’s recognition opens the door for discussions on any number of topics.

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While a contract isn’t at the top of the list now since that would require formal legal recognition of the union by VW, but it certainly is a possibility in the not so distant future, Casteel said. (more…)

Canadian Autoworkers Join New Union

CAW merges into new Unifor.

by on Sep.03, 2013

Unifor Pres. Jerry Dias comes from the communications side of the new union - with no experience in the automotive world.

This story has been updated to reflect the prior automotive experience of new Unifor Pres. Dias.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union is gone, having completed a merger with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada to create a new union that will go by the name Unifor.

As part of the merger, CAW national president Ken Lewenza, a veteran of negotiations with Detroit’s automakers, and CEP president Dave Coles opted to step aside for new leadership team. Unifor’s new president, Jerry Dias, who was installed during a convention in Toronto,was one of Lewenza’s administrative assistant at the CAW, and has participated in negotiations with Detroit’s automakers.

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He’ll have to face off with automakers who have increasingly complained about rising labor costs in Canada – and who have been threatening to transfer work and jobs back to the U.S. or even Mexico.

Dias, however, said during his acceptance speech that organizing will be one of the new union’s top priorities. The old CAW had organizing efforts in place for several months at plants in Ontario operated by Toyota and Honda. The new union boss said he would uphold Unifor’s promise to dedicate 10% of its revenues to organizing workplaces and adding new members.

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Chrysler Workers Get Early Bonus

Maker waives rules to honor worker “commitment.”

by on Dec.03, 2012

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne with workers at the Belvedere (Illinois) Assembly Plant.

Chrysler workers are getting an unexpected holiday present. The automaker says it is paying a bonus they weren’t supposed to get until next year ahead of time.

Chrysler’s union-represented employees will receive the second half of the $3,500 ratification bonus they got for approving their latest contract on Dec. 21. Had Chrysler stuck to the original language in the contract it signed with the United Auto Workers union in 2011 workers would not have received payment until at least the first quarter of 2013.

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“This waiver of the four-quarter requirement is made in recognition of the tremendous contribution you have all made to the performance of our facilities and to the revival of Chrysler,” Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO, said in a letter to employees.

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VW Sidesteps Strike With Big Pay Hike

Biggest pay increase in 20 years.

by on Jun.04, 2012

Workers at VW's "Glass Factory" in Dresden.

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest automaker, has agreed to give its German workers a pay increase of 4.3%, following the pattern set last month at Daimler, Porsche and BMW.

Under the one year contract, which expires next June, the pay increase took effect June 1 and covers more than 102,000 employees at VW manufacturing and financial services units.

German employers originally asked for a two-year contract but apparently agreed to the one agree contracts on the assumption negotiators from IG Metall will be willing to reduce demands if the European economy continues to soften over the next 12 months.

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The union, however, also won important concessions from VW and other employers in Western Germany for boosting the wages and benefits of trainees, students and temporary workers. Temporary workers also got a 4.3% pay increase as part of the deal.

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Auto Industry to Add Nearly 200,000 U.S. Jobs

Car business again a key driver of the economy.

by on Dec.01, 2011

Workers at a Ford plant in Detroit. The maker will add thousands of jobs as part of its new UAW contract.

There’s an old adage that when the economy catches a cold the auto industry comes down with pneumonia, as was apparent when Detroit’s makers struggled for survival in 2009, two of the Big Three plunging into bankruptcy. But with the overall economy now struggling to turn around it seems that the auto industry is pushing it into high gear – car sales showing newfound momentum and –according to a new study – carmakers getting ready to go on a hiring spree.

A new study by The Center for Auto Research estimates the U.S., auto industry will add 60,000 new jobs next year, and 190,000 jobs between now and 2015.

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Detroit’s three makers and their “transplant” rivals have already added or announced plans to add tens of thousands of new workers but the CAR study suggests the bulk of the new jobs it is anticipating will be added by automotive suppliers.

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UAW Hourly Workers Approve Chrysler Contract

But rejection by skilled trades workers raises problems.

by on Oct.26, 2011

Chrysler workers barely approved their new contract.

Members of the United Auto Workers Union have ratified their new four-year labor agreement with Chrysler Group LLC but also opened the door to protests inside the company that union leaders could find difficult to control.

The new agreement covers approximately 26,000 hourly and salaried workers employed by Chrysler in the U.S.

The vote tally was released barely a week after Ford workers approved their own contract by a two-to-one majority.  At Chrysler the results were significantly closer, the “Yes” vote totaling only 55%.  And even then, the union had to resort to a procedural maneuver after skilled tradesmen voted down their portion of the contract by 69 percent to 31 percent.

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“Because a majority of UAW skilled trades members voted against the tentative hourly agreement, under the UAW Constitution, the UAW International Executive Board (IEB) investigated the reasons skilled members voted against the proposed agreement and determined that these reasons were predominantly economic and not unique to skilled trades members.  Accordingly, the IEB declared the agreements ratified under the UAW Constitution,” the union said in a statement.

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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:

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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:

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UAW Makes It Official: Ford Contract Approved

Voting begins on Chrysler settlement.

by on Oct.19, 2011

The new Ford contract covers 41,000 U.S. workers.

Despite widespread dissatisfaction with the contract’s terms among union members, the United Auto Workers has officially declared the new pact with the Ford Motor Co ratified.

The results of voting released by the union showed 63%, or 22,031, union members in favor of the agreement, while 37%, or 12,957, opposed the contract. Last month, union members had approved a new four -year agreement with General Motors.

Voting, meanwhile, is just getting underway on the new Chrysler settlement – which observers believe will likely be impacted by the approval of the Ford contract.

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“This agreement is proof that, by working together with our UAW partners and local communities, we can significantly create new jobs, invest in our plants and people, and make a very positive impact on the U.S. economy,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company’s president of The Americas.  “Our agreement is fair to our employees and it improves our competitiveness in the U.S.”

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Chrysler Commits to 2,100 More Jobs, $4.5 Bil Investment

But new UAW contract puts less cash in workers’ pockets.

by on Oct.12, 2011

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announcing the pay-off of the maker's federal bailout in May.

As part of its new contract with the United Auto Workers Union, Chrysler will invest $4.5 billion in new vehicles and technology, including two compact models based on Fiat products that will be built at the automaker’s assembly plants in Michigan and Illinois.

But the deal – which also guarantees at least 2,100 new jobs – comes with a price.  The union agreed to accept a smaller signing bonus than at General Motors or Ford Motor Co. to help the company achieve financial stability. And only half the $3,500 bonus will be paid immediately upon ratification while the balance will be paid after the company reaches financial stability.

The provision reduces the upfront cost of the contract which also includes a pay increase for second tier workers and limited changes in the health care plans. An additional $1,000 annual bonus also will be deferred until the company is in better financial health, the union said.

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The agreement was reached after a series of bruising meeting between UAW President Bob King and Chrysler/Fiat chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne, who had hoped to reduce the cost of the pact while preserving the company’s working relationship with the union. King had said he wasn’t looking for a confrontation with Chrysler but wanted his members to see the contract as fair.

“It’s a new day at Chrysler,” said King, officially confirming the settlement, which came almost a month after the original September 14th deadline.

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New Settlement Will Increase Ford’s Competitiveness – Yield New Jobs and Investments

Maker hoping it will also trigger a credit rating hike.

by on Oct.04, 2011

The new UAW contract should result in Ford's maintaining the AutoAlliance plant in suburban Detroit which now builds the Ford Mustang and Mazda6. Mazda plans to abandon the plant.

Ford Motor Co. will increase by $16 billion its investment in North America while adding 12,000 new jobs, the maker announced as it confirmed reaching a tentative new contract with the United Auto Workers Union.

While declining to release specific details of the settlement, which was reached in the wee hours of the morning after more than two months of bargaining – and nearly three weeks after the union reached an agreement with General Motors – Ford officials stressed that the new contract will “improve our overall competitiveness.”

Ford is also hoping that, much like the GM agreement, the new contract will be received well by credit rating agencies.  Ford CEO Alan Mulally has made it a top priority to return to investment grade.  S&P last week indicated it would consider an upgrade if the Ford contract appeared similar in its advantages to the settlement won by GM.

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“We believe this agreement,” said Ford EVP John Fleming, “will enable us to increase our overall competitiveness in the United States,” something he underscored by noting the 4-year contract, if ratified, “will also permit us to insource work from Mexico, China, Japan and other parts of the world.”

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