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Toledo torpedoed labor contract

by Bill Cawthon on

Workers at the Toledo Assembly Complex have overwhelmingly rejected the proposed labor agreement between Fiat Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union.

According to a report in this morning’s Toledo Blade, UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower said the rejection was “big time.” The Detroit News estimated that 87% of production employees and 80% of skilled trades workers voted against the pact.  Sterling Heights plant workers reportedly also rejected the contract by a wide margin, with the Detroit Free Press claiming no votes by 72% of normal workers and 65% of skilled trades.


Belvidere Assembly and Warren Stamping vote today, but unless the contract passes by a huge margin in those facilities, the contract will not be ratified. In 2011, Belvidere decisively rejected a contract which ultimately passed by a slim margin.

Anticipating a defeat, the union has called for a meeting of all local leaders on Thursday. UAW national leaders could call for a re-vote, but the margins reported so far, which are running almost 2-to-1 against the deal, mean it is unlikely that a second vote would win ratification.

The union could also decide to extend the current contract and return to the bargaining table or call for a strike, which has already been approved by union members. [A strike without further negotiation is unlikely.]

Failure to win ratification could be a serious blow to UAW President Dennis Williams, whose close personal relationship with Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has become an issue on social media. Points of contention between union members and leaders are the two-tier wage system and lack of specific product commitments.

FCA is not alone; the UAW has given Ford Motor Company a five-day notice of a strike at the Kansas City plant that assembles the F-150 pickup.  UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said that Ford has not negotiated in good faith in talks over a local contract for the plant. Local contracts are separate from the national contract and deal with issues related to a specific plant.

The F-series is a crucial product for the Dearborn-based automaker, taking more than 30% of total sales.

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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