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UAW Workers Asked to Authorize Strikes at GM, Fiat Chrysler

Move a bargaining tool; confrontations unlikely.

by on Aug.18, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra and UAW Pres. Dennis Williams chat before the start of a media Q&A session.

For the first time since General Motors and Chrysler were rescued by federal bailouts, workers at the two companies are being asked to authorize a strike at the two companies should they fail to lock down new contracts with the United Auto Workers Union by the September 14th deadline.

The moves are seen as procedural, however, and don’t reflect signs of trouble in the negotiations that began last month. If anything, UAW officials have said they would see a walkout as a failure and would use it only as a last resort. And the two automakers say they see no reason for a walkout.

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“The strike vote is part of the UAW’s democratic process that occurs every contract year,” GM spokeswoman Katie McBride said. “We remain committed to working with our UAW partners on an agreement that benefits employees and strengthens GM’s long-term competitiveness.”


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.


UAW Demands Extra $200 mil for Chrysler Shares

May scuttle Fiat plans to take over all Chrysler stock.

by on Nov.14, 2012

Fiat CEO Marchionne's bid for additional Chrysler shares has been rebuffed by the UAW.

It could turn out to be a lot more costly for Fiat to acquire a chunk of Chrysler stock now held by the United Auto Workers Union’s health care trust – possibly more than the Italian maker can afford as it struggles to fix its debt-ridden European operations.

Fiat has been steadily expanding its stake in Chrysler in the wake of the U.S. maker’s 2011 bankruptcy and now owns nearly two-thirds of Chrysler stock – or will if it can complete the acquisition of a 3.3% stake it wants to purchase from the UAW. But the union is arguing that the stock is worth $342 million, not the more modest $139.7 million that Fiat has proposed.

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Both sides have taken the case to court and will wait to see which figure is deemed accurate. But the decision could have a bigger, long-term impact as Fiat eventually wants to buy the entire 41.5% stake the UAW received after Chrysler’s bankruptcy.


Marchionne Wants to Eliminate 2-Tier Wage Structure at Chrysler

“Economic disparity…cannot go on indefinitely.”

by on Oct.28, 2011

CEO Sergio Marchionne is signalling Chrysler must find a way to eliminate the 2-tier union wage structure.

Despite the significant cost savings it is bringing to the smallest of the domestic automakers, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne signaled that the maker’s two-tier wage structure is something he plans to eliminate in the not-too-distant future.

About one in eight of Chrysler’s 26,000 union workers in the U.S. currently fall into the second tier, earning about half as much as more senior members of the United Auto Workers Union – a figure expected to grow to at least one in four by the time the newly ratified 4-year UAW contract expires in 2015, said Marchionne during a conference call.

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The union failed to eliminate the two-tier structure during its recent contract talks with Chrysler, General Motors and Ford, though it did win so-called “new hires” a modest increase of about $3 an hour in wages and some additional benefits.  But in an unexpected turn, Marchionne suggested that having multiple grades is “structurally undesirable.”


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.


Chrysler, UAW Reach Settlement

Contract agreement comes nearly a month after original deadline.

by on Oct.12, 2011

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne with UAW President Bob King seen earlier this year.

Working well into the night, Chrysler and United Auto Workers Union negotiators hammered out a new contract for 26,000 hourly employees – nearly a month after the maker’s original labor contract was set to expire.

The deal makes the conclusion of this year’s round of bargaining for the Detroit makers – contract talks considered crucial to both labor and management.  Significantly, the talks steered clear of the angry rhetoric and confrontations that had seemed a traditional part of bargaining for the domestic manufacturers.

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While specific details of the Chrysler contract have yet to be released initial indications are that the settlement follows the pattern set last month by the UAW’s contract with General Motors, which would include a small “signing bonus,” improvements in profit sharing, some inflation protection and a modest increase in wages for new workers hired into a lower second tier.

But, notably, there will be no increase in base wages for its hourly workers.  And, overall, Chrysler is likely to have accepted little of an increase in its overall labor costs, which averaged just over $50 an hour going into this round of talks.


Chrysler May Push UAW into Arbitration

Union makes push but talks may be deadlocked.

by on Oct.06, 2011

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne may push contract talks with the UAW into arbitration.

With negotiations at Ford wrapped up, the United Auto Workers Union is turning its attention to what is potentially its most difficult target — Chrysler – but after faltering shortly before the original September 14 deadline there are growing concerns that the two sides may be deadlocked, forcing them to turn to binding arbitration as required by Chrysler’s 2009 federal bailout.

Hoping to push past the current impasse, UAW president Bob King has finally joined the negotiations, which are underway at Chrysler headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, setting the stage for several days of intense bargaining.

Chrysler has been threatening the union with arbitration – which was set as a requirement since the bailout barred a strike over economic issues.

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The union, however, tried to defuse the threat by going to Ford for the second contract after setting a tentative pattern agreement at General Motors, last month.

Complicating matters, the company and union have yet to agree on an arbitrator. Arbitration ultimately could take several months to resolve, postponing a final settlement until sometime next year.


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.”


Breaking News; Ford and UAW Reach Settlement

Chrysler left to settle.

by on Oct.04, 2011

The settlement is expected to see Ford add production of the next-generation Fusion - its design based on this Evos Concept -- at a plant in suburban Detroit, saving thousands of jobs.

Ford and the United Auto Workers Union have reached a tentative settlement covering the automaker’s U.S. hourly workers. The two sides are expected to hail the development as a critical step in maintaining the competitiveness of the domestic auto industry – and bringing jobs back.

The agreement comes more than two weeks after the UAW was able to hammer out an agreement with General Motors and is expected to follow the pattern of the GM agreement.  That would mean substantial bonuses and a small raise for tier-two workers currently earning about half as much as veterans on the line.

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But Ford is also expected to benefit from the agreement, as did GM, through terms designed to improve productivity and offset any added costs.  That is expected to result in the addition of new union jobs, while also helping Ford keep open a plant in the Detroit suburbs many had expected might close.

Ford officials will outline their view of the agreement during a news conference this morning, UAW leaders following several hours later. will have coverage following those events.


Are Ford and UAW Ready to Announce a Deal?

Senior union leaders summoned to Detroit Tuesday morning.

by on Oct.03, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King shakes hands with Ford Chairman Bill Ford as negotiations open in July.

Are Ford and the United Auto Workers Union ready to announce a deal on a new 4-year contract?

There are certainly signs that an agreement is at hand, the UAW calling senior local leaders to Detroit for a Tuesday morning meeting that sources indicate will be used to discuss a tentative agreement.  The likely settlement is expected to at least match the gains both General Motors and the union each claimed in the settlement they reached last month – though Ford is also expected to provide a slightly larger bonus to its hourly employees.

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Negotiations, meanwhile, continue at Chrysler, though there are indications the two sides have hit some significant stumbling blocks over issues that include a desired up-front “signing bonus,” as well as an increase in wages for second-tier hourly employees currently earning just half of what veteran Chrysler employees get.