UAW members reject FCA contract proposal
United Auto Workers members have rejected a tentative contract agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, sending both sides back to the negotiating table.
Interestingly, FCA officials and union leaders seemed unusually upbeat after completing initial negotiations two weeks ago. Full details of the talks were not made public, though various reports suggested the sides had agreed on new raise programs for tier-two workers and established plans for a healthcare co-op.
The first round of talks are said to have included a provision that would allow Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart production to move to Mexico, in exchange for more SUV and crossover production concentrated in the US.
“FCA US is disappointed that UAW members voted not to ratify the tentative agreement,” the company said in a statement. “The memories of our near-death experience in 2009 are vivid to this day in the minds of most of us at FCA. “The cyclical nature of the automotive business demands that while we must recognize the need for rewarding employees during times of prosperity, we must also protect against the inevitable market downturn. This agreement accomplished both of these objectives.”
UAW members currently benefit from profit-sharing agreements that give workers a cut of the automaker’s bottom line during good years, while limiting payroll costs during downturns. The 2008 industry crisis also resulted in the current two-tier wage system, however, which is said to have created a division among the tiered workers in factories throughout the US.
“What I love about our organization most of all is that no matter what we do, what action we take, the ultimate decision and the power of the union is our members and they make the final decision,” said UAW president Dennis Williams. “We don’t consider this a setback; we consider the membership vote a part of the process we respect.”
Approximately two thirds of workers rejected the tentative agreement.