Negotiators from the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. are continuing to wrestle with multiple issues as they try to put the final touches on a new labor contract even as they extend the old one to clear the way for FCA employees to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
The UAW staged a 40-day strike against General Motors Co. during September and October to establish a pattern for the 2019 contracts and negotiators from Ford and the UAW took less than a week to reach a tentative agreement after the GM pact was ratified.
FCA and the UAW, however, haven’t been able to reach an agreement after more than a week of effort and it’s not at all clear a tentative agreement will be in place soon.
Meanwhile, the union agreed that the temporary extension put in place when the old contract expired will allow for the two-day Thanksgiving holiday.
“Since our Brothers and Sisters at Ford ratified their National Agreement, your National Negotiating Team has intensified our discussions with FCA. While we have had a few outside distractions since then, your negotiators have remained focused on resolving all your outstanding demands,” Cindy Estrada, the UAW vice president in charge of the negotiations with FCA, said in a statement Monday.
“The National Parties have negotiated every day, and long hours since then. Much progress has been made but we still have some difficult issues to resolve. Your negotiators are committed to bargaining a pattern agreement that meets the needs of the membership and provides long term job security,” she said.
Estrada also noted we previously negotiated an agreement with the company that Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after will be paid holidays under our extension agreement.
FCA officials also acknowledged the talks are continuing without identifying a specific issue that have slowed the negotiations.
“Bargaining between FCA and the UAW continues with the goal of reaching an agreement that will allow us to continue investing in our future while creating opportunities for our employees, their families and the communities where we live and work. We thank all of our employees for their continued hard work and dedication,” FCA said.
One of the overarching concerns of UAW negotiators is ratification. Even at GM, the strike pact was ratified with only 57% of the vote and the Ford contract also was narrowly ratified after workers at two of the company’s largest assembly plants in Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky voted against ratification. Both Ford Chicago and Louisville plants have significant concentrations of temporary employees and new hires who are still “in progress” to top wages.
FCA employs more temporary and in progress employees than either Ford or GM and satisfying their demands is a key objective for union negotiations.
In addition, many union members are suspicious of UAW officers and officials because of the scandal that has engulfed the union, included on effort by FCA officials to influence the administration of company’s contract with the union.
In 2015, UAW members voted down one proposed contract with FCA and in 2011 employees in the skilled trade voted down a tentative agreement.