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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.”


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…)

UAW Reloading for New Talks with Fiat Chrysler

Union leaders assure rank-and-file message received with no vote.

by on Oct.06, 2015

UAW President Dennis Williams told FCA workers that he's gotten the message as the union prepares for a new round of talks with Fiat Chrysler.

The United Auto Workers is inching back towards a new round of negotiations with Fiat Chrysler, following the rejection of a tentative agreement reached last month that included pay increases, but failed to meet the expectations of union members.

The scope of the rejection came into focus this week when the union disclosed that more than 80% of FCA’s 40,000 unionized employees voted during the ratification election and 65% voted no, meaning that more than the contract lost by more than 10,000 votes.

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Shifting the 10,000 votes over to the “yes” column represent a tall order for union leadership. Both UAW President Dennis Williams and UAW vice president Norwood Jewel, who led the efforts with FCA, used social media channels to assure union members that they had gotten the message and were willing to address concerns raised during the ratification campaign. (more…)

UAW Workers Reject Fiat Chrysler Contract

Strike could be looming for both FCA and for Ford.

by on Oct.01, 2015

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

A strike could be looming in the near future for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now that 40,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers Union have rejected the carmaker’s tentative contract.

The UAW announced the results after the last major FCA assembly plant, in Sterling Heights, Michigan, turned thumbs down on the controversial agreement, which had generated widespread criticism by union activists. Almost 70% of the workers in Sterling Heights rejected the four-year proposal, according to a website run by the union local.

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The announcement comes as a major setback for UAW leaders, especially new President Dennis Williams who was overseeing his first round of national contract talks. The question now is whether the UAW can go back and renegotiate improvements to the agreement without a confrontation. Going into this year’s auto talks, Williams had said he would be willing to strike, if necessary, but said he would consider that possibility a “failure.”


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.


FCA and UAW Extend Talks on an Hourly Basis

Signs of optimism despite missed deadline.

by on Sep.15, 2015

FCA's Sergio Marchionne and UAW's Dennis Williams shared a laugh during the opening of contract talks earlier this summer.

The United Auto Workers and FCA U.S. fell short in their bid to reach a new labor contract as the old pact expired at midnight on Monday night, but the two sides agreed to an “hour by hour” extension, which suggested negotiators believed they were relatively close to reaching a tentative four-year agreement.

Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat Automobiles NV. chief executive officer, was in Auburn Hills   as the deadline approached, rather than in Germany for the influential Frankfurt Auto Show. Besides skipping Fiat Chrysler’s various product introductions, Marchionne had been scheduled to meet with investors and analyst as part of the ongoing   effort to bolster the company’s image and stock price.

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The FCA CEO said he would have had a chance to promote his new pet project – a merger with General Motors.


Coming Down to the Wire: Contract Talks Focusing in on GM

Union reportedly seeking “signing bonuses” of up to $10,000.

by on Sep.12, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson and UAW President Bob King shook hands at the opening of contract talks, in July.

Contract talks between the United Auto Workers Union and domestic carmakers are fast approaching the Sept, 14 deadline and UAW negotiators are pushing to wrap up the talks with General Motors and Chrysler first before taking on Ford – the only company the union is legally able to strike this year.

With all three Detroit makers reportedly unwilling to budge with new pay increases or added benefits, labor bargainers are struggling to find something they can take home to members – and are pushing for “signing bonuses” of as much as $10,000 a worker.

Company officials, meanwhile, are dangling the prospect of new U.S. jobs – while that carrot is offset by a stick that threatens to move even more UAW work out of the country.

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There had been much speculation that the UAW would first target Ford, as it is considered the healthiest of the domestic makers – and because the possibility of a strike would appear to give the union more leverage that it might have at GM and Chrysler.  Under terms of their 2009 federal bailouts, those two makers cannot be struck and, should negotiations deadlock, a final decision will be made by an outside arbitrator. But that isn’t how things seem to be working out.


Contract Talks Drag as Deadline Approaches

Will union dig in for battle at Ford?

by on Sep.07, 2011

Workers on a GM assembly plant in Flint. The domestic giant could be targeted first as contract talks come down to the wire - but a strike is barred by law.

Talks between the United Auto Workers Union and Detroit’s three automakers have slowed in recent days even as workers at Ford voted in favor of a strike and UAW officials brushed aside reports it has elected to focus on General Motors as its target as its contracts expire Sept. 14.

Michele Martin, UAW spokeswoman, said in an e-mail the union had not picked a target to focus on yet after several reports surfaced indicating the union had decided to concentrate on GM in a bid to win a contract that could then be used as a pattern for a settlement with Ford and Chrysler.

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Meanwhile, negotiations with all three automakers are moving slowly, according to those familiar with the talks. Sources at the three automakers indicated the negotiations are bogging down and in places have not gotten much beyond the subcommittee level.

UAW President Bob King, however, said in a television interview over the weekend he thought the talks were going well. The negotiations involve new contracts covering more than 112,000 workers at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.


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.


Are Ford and the UAW Heading for Confrontation?

Union tallying strike vote as contract deadline nears.

by on Aug.25, 2011

Ford workers assembling the 2012 Focus.

The United Auto Workers Union is tallying up strike votes at Ford Motor Co. plants around the country as contract negotiations between the union and domestic automakers move towards the mid-September deadline.

The UAW is in the midst of talks with all three of the Detroit automakers, but Ford is the only one the union is legally able to strike due to strictures placed by the federal government in the multi-billion-dollar bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler following their 2009 bankruptcies.

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There are clearly some tough issues on the table — especially the unpopular two-tier wage structure that has been rapidly expanded since the industry’s near-collapse.  Nonetheless, both sides are trying to downplay the possibility of a confrontation.