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Last-Minute Deal Averts Strike at Fiat Chrysler

Two sides hope workers will give nod to second contract proposal.

by on Oct.08, 2015

FCA CEO Marchionne and UAW Pres. Williams were all smiles as they began contract talks.

With workers ready to take to the street, Fiat Chrysler managed to hammer out a second tentative contract settlement with the United Auto Workers Union just minutes before the midnight deadline on Wednesday.

Negotiators from both sides faced pressure to come up with a better deal than the one originally delivered last month but then rejected by a nearly two-to-one margin in a vote by FCA’s 40,000 U.S. hourly workers. Neither side was willing to discuss details of the new agreement ahead of a Friday morning meeting of UAW leaders.

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“FCA US confirms that it has reached a new tentative agreement with the UAW,” read a statement issued by the automaker minutes after the 11:59 pm deadline. “Because the agreement is subject to UAW member ratification, the Company cannot discuss the specifics of the agreement pending a vote by UAW members.”

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Key Reasons Why UAW Workers May Walk the Picket Line

And why Fiat Chrysler may be willing to take a strike.

by on Oct.07, 2015

Workers at FCA's Toledo, Ohio, plant could be the first to walk out if a deal doesn't come soon.

The clock is rapidly ticking away towards an 11:59 PM deadline that could see Fiat Chrysler face its first strike in years. The United Autoworkers Union set the walkout threat after its members voted down their original contract offer and talks aimed at sweetening the deal appeared to stall.

The vote was an embarrassment for UAW leaders, especially new President Dennis Williams, who is leading contract talks with Detroit’s Big Three for the first time. He had originally set a cooperative tone, insisting a strike would be a “failure,” but he also stressed that he would not shy away from a confrontation, if that’s what it would take.

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Here are some of the key reasons why the UAW may be ready to strike – and why FCA might be willing to risk a confrontation that industry analysts warn could cost it as much as $1 billion a week in lost revenue. (more…)

FCA, UAW Reach Tentative Contract

Union now turns attention to Ford, GM.

by on Sep.16, 2015

UAW Pres. Dennis Williams had been willing to strike - but said that would have meant failure.

After a marathon push meant to avert a possible confrontation, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reached a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers that is expected to become a template for contracts with the General Motors and Ford Motor Co., as well.

The settlement was announced more than 19 hours after the union granted FCA U.S. an hour-by-hour extension of the previous 4-year contract to avert a potential costly strike that could have proved costly to both sides.

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While specific details have not been released, UAW President Dennis Williams said the settlement with FCA meets all three of the union’s top objectives, among them job security, better wages and improvements for second-tier workers earnings barely half as much as senior colleagues.

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Canadian Workers Reject Demand for Concessions

Has Canada become “the most expensive place in the world to build a car”?

by on Aug.15, 2012

High Canadian labor costs have led GM to move production of the Chevrolet Equinox from Oshawa, Ontario to Spring Hill, TN.

Negotiations between Detroit’s three automaker and the Canadian Auto Workers Union have gotten underway in Toronto. And with the CAW’s contract with the automakers expiring in mid-September there could be trouble ahead.

The talks are expected to be difficult because the rising value of the Canadian dollar has made General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler plants more expensive to operate – leading the makers to hint they’ll press for new concessions. But CAW leaders are clearly reluctant to depart from the traditional contract elements, such as an annual wage increase, in favor of profit sharing, which the American car makers are expected to demand.

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Ken Lewenza, CAW president, also has indicated he is dissatisfied with the Canadian government failure to come to the aid of the country’s auto industry. Other industrial nations, including the United States, have found ways to help their auto industry, he noted in an opinion piece he wrote for a Canadian newspaper. Canada has done little since participating in the auto bailout in 2009.

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Ford Wants to Close $8-an-Hour Labor Cost Gap

Could prove contentious issue during upcoming auto talks.

by on May.09, 2011

Ford CEO Mulally's huge pay package could make it difficult to win UAW concessions.

In an industry where even a nickel’s added cost can make a competitive difference, Ford is dealing with an issue of dollars and sense that could turn into a big issue as it heads back to the bargaining table with the United Autoworkers Union.

The maker says it currently is paying its U.S. union workers $8 an hour more than what non-union factory employees make at the “transplants” operated by makers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai.  On average, Ford employees are earning $58 an hour, including wages and benefits, compared to the average $50 cost of labor at foreign-owned factories.

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“We cannot continue to have a cost gap with the competition and still be able to make significant U.S. investment and create new jobs,” the automaker emphasized in a blog posting on the fordahead.com website that it set up to discuss bargaining issues. “For Ford to be fully competitive in the years ahead, we’ll need to focus on closing the gap even more.”

The second-largest American automaker has generally declined to discuss bargaining issues, part of a joint union-management strategy to avoid the sort of confrontational tone that has traditionally colored the start of negotiations.  But the cost gap is certain to be one of the key issues Ford plans to put on the table, and it appears the maker could be presenting its case directly to workers hoping they will pressure UAW negotiators to place jobs ahead of wages and benefits as a new contract is hammered out.

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