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FCA, UAW in tentative agreement (with video)

by Bill Cawthon on

Yesterday, the United Auto Workers union announced it had reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with FCA US LLC, the former Chrysler Corporation. The UAW represents most hourly workers at FCA US in the United States, while Canadian workers are represented by Unifor.

The announcement was made officially last night, less than a day after the expiration of the previous contract.

FCA-UAW-Deal-Web

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and UAW president Dennis Williams, who have had a cordial relationship for years, downplayed their roles in reaching the concord, giving most of the credit to FCA lead Glenn Shagena, vice president of employee relations, UAW Chrysler Department vice-president Norwood Jewell, and their teams.

Mr. Marchionne cancelled a planned Tuesday appearance at the Frankfurt International Auto Show to return to Detroit after the union announced that Fiat Chrysler had been selected as the lead company for the 2015 contract talks.

FCA-UAW-agreement-Web

While specifics of the agreement were not disclosed, Mr. Williams and Mr. Marchionne said the deal addresses the issues of the two-tier wage system and the rising cost of health care. Marchionne said the two-tier system would “go away over time,” but would not give any further information about how long this would take.

One of the reasons Fiat Chrysler was chosen as the lead company may have been because Mr. Marchionne is the only CEO of a unionized automaker to have gone on record as favoring the end of the two-tier system.

The terms of the agreement won’t be released until they have been reviewed by union leadership, including the heads of various  locals. The contract must then be ratified by the union membership.

Both sides are hoping for a better reception than the previous pact. The 2011 agreement barely passed the ratification vote and required a lot of arm-twisting from then-president Bob King and the late General Holiefield, who was the UAW’s Chrysler Department vice president.

When asked if the FCA deal would set the pattern for negotiations with Ford and General Motors, Mr. Williams said each company is unique, but that he is hoping that his suggestion of a healthcare pool for union workers at all three companies can be implemented. Mr. Marchionne supported the idea; most of the FCA factories outside the U.S. are in countries with national, single-payer health systems, such as Canada and Italy.

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 just-auto.com, 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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