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Jeep workers vote to allow strike

by Bill Cawthon on

Workers in Toledo have voted to permit a strike if the UAW is unable to reach an agreement with Fiat Chrysler, according to unnamed sources cited in a Detroit Free Press report.

If the report is true, union members in Toledo have joined those at the Belvidere and Warren plants in authorizing UAW negotiators to use the measure as a bargaining tool.

The results of votes taken in all UAW locals are due to be completed next week. A vote to allow a strike does not mean there will be one. It permits the union bargaining team to call for a strike if a new four-year deal can’t be achieved.


This is the first time the UAW has had the option to strike since Sergio Marchionne and Fiat took over Chrysler in 2009.

While a strike could hurt Fiat Chrysler at a sensitive time, just as the 2016 models go on sale, it also could put workers in a bind. The UAW has one of the largest strike funds of any union but the strike benefit is just 17.7% of a Tier 1 work’s weekly pay and 25.9% of a Tier 2 worker’s maximum weekly pay.

The contract talks will have to cross a minefield of opposing goals. The Fiat Chrysler team, led by Glenn Shagena, needs to protect the company’s low hourly labor costs, which are significantly lower that those at Ford and General Motors. The primary goal will be the preservation of the company’s waiver on Tier 2 hiring and keeping a lid on Tier 1 compensation. The UAW team, led by union vice president Norwood Jewell, wants raises for Tier 1 workers, who haven’t had a raise in ten years, and the advancement of new hires to full union scale.

Fiat Chrysler’s waiver on the 25% cap on Tier 2 workers expires in September. Between 40% and 45% of the company’s 39,000 hourly workers are paid at the Tier 2 rate.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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