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Friendly FCA-UAW Handshake Masks Tough Task Ahead

Marchionne, Williams stake out negotiating positions.

by on Jul.14, 2015

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams share an impromptu hug to kick off contract talks between the two parties.

A potentially contentious round of contract negotiations between the FCA U.S. and the United Auto Workers opened with a friendly ceremonial handshake and a hug between FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams. The pair then launched into a rundown of the key issues facing bargainers.

Williams said that the UAW would not back away from its goal of closing the gap between first- and second-tier workers of which Chrysler has more than any other automaker. “Base wages have stagnated,” Williams said, adding new employees hired in at entry rate feel like second-class citizens. Profit sharing has helped, he said.

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UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell said while the stakes are high with this round of talks, FCA U.S. has come a long way since the recession. (more…)

GM, Ford, FCA Kick Off Negotiations with UAW

Union looking to get its piece of the automotive recovery.

by on Jul.13, 2015

Past UAW President Bob King shakes hands with Ford Chairman Bill Ford as negotiations began in 2011 on the now expiring contract.

The overall economic impact of the negotiations between the domestic carmakers and the United Auto Workers on wages across the U.S. has waned over the years, but the inherent drama of the talks lives on as the two sides get down to bargaining this year and the stakes are as high as ever.

The negotiations, which open today with an official handshake between General Motors executives and top UAW officers, promise to particularly eventful – and unpredictable – because of the climate change that surrounds the 2015 negotiations.

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After all these are the first negotiations since the 1990s that follow a streak of five very profitable years, noted Kristin Dziczek, an analyst with Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. (more…)

UAW Readying Contract Demands in Detroit

Two-tier wages, raise likely to top discussion list.

by on Mar.24, 2015

UAW President Dennis Williams wants a pay increase for hourly workers in the next union contract.

The United Auto Workers union is meeting this week in Detroit with its local leaders to set its agenda for future bargaining with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Among the many issues they are expected to broach during talks with automakers this year include the elimination of the two-tier wage system as well as a raise for employees. The two-tier wage system has been an effective tool to help some makers reduce their labor costs.

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However, its caused resentment among many workers and even top executives at the car companies have expressed reservations about retaining the set up. (more…)

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.

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Auto Talks Begin: Future on the Line for Both Big Three and UAW

Makers must satisfy workers while remaining competitive.

by on Jul.25, 2011

Not this time. The UAW is barred from striking GM and Chrysler and hasn't walked out at Ford in decades.

With smiles and handshakes for the cameras, negotiators for the United Auto Workers Union and Chrysler Corp. will today begin the challenging task of coming up with a new contract for more than 20,000 hourly U.S. autoworkers. Later this week, the situation will repeat itself at both Ford and General Motors.

The scene may be familiar – occurring every three to four years for the last three-quarters of a century – but seldom has so much been riding on the outcome.  Still struggling to emerge from the domestic auto industry’s worst downturn since the Great Depression, the viability of Detroit’s Big Three is a lot less certain than recent profits might suggest.  But the UAW itself has to worry about the future.

Consider Chrysler where there are now about 23,000 UAW-represented workers – a decline of nearly 50,000 in less than a decade.  A recent filing with the federal government revealed total membership dropped to 376,612 at the end of 2010 – including union-represented jobs in non-automotive industries.  The UAW’s ranks peaked in 1979, when it counted 1.53 million dues-paying members.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” warns Harley Shaiken, a long-time student of the UAW and a professor at the University of California – Berkley.

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So, both sides know that their fates may ride on what happens between now and mid-September, when talks are scheduled to wrap up.  The question is whether these negotiations can produce settlements that keep Detroit competitive while also satisfying the workers who will eventually have to approve the agreements.  What we may see, many observers are betting, will be contracts that contain expanded profit-sharing packages that more closely link workers’ remuneration to the health of the automakers than ever before.

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