Cleveland, Ohio – The United Auto Workers will work out a new four-year contract with FCA US LLC and use that as a pattern for contracts with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, the union has announced.
“All three companies are working hard toward a collective bargaining agreement. At this time, the UAW has selected FCA US LLC to be the lead bargaining company,” says Dennis Williams, president of the UAW. “All three companies have been working with UAW bargaining teams toward a collective bargaining agreement and continue to do so.”
In response FCA President and CEO Sergio Marchionned cancelled planned appearances at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany to participate in contract talks.
Toward the end of each four-year contract, the UAW begins negotiations will Ford, GM, and FCA US at the same time, but it typically picks a target company later in the process to hammer out the details of the final deal. For decades, the union has used that same basic pattern for all three companies, through some differences do exist between the contracts at the different companies.
In 2011, the UAW picked GM as the target company, but those negotiations were very different than the 2015 talks. In 2011, workers at GM and Chrysler were forbidden from striking over most contract issues as a condition of the 2009 government bailouts of those two automakers. Only Ford workers retained the right to strike.
The last traditional set of UAW negotiations took place in 2007 when the union named Ford the pattern setter.
Labor experts say picking FCA could be a significant signal from the UAW. Of Detroit’s major automakers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is in the worst shape financially. Workers and Ford and GM have done much better, financially, throughout the past four years because strong North American profits have led to big profit-sharing checks. The people who make Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, and Jeep products have gotten much smaller bonuses.
Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, tells the Detroit News that FCA has more entry level employees than Ford or GM, people who make half of the traditional UAW wage. That, coupled with the low profit sharing checks, means the FCA workers are likely pushing for higher wages and fewer lower-wage positions. By working with the most difficult company first, she says the deals with Ford and GM may become more lucrative for members.
"Fiat Chrysler also has the most entry-level workers of the three, so whatever the UAW does to solve the entry-level issue can then be taken to GM and Ford," Dziczek says.
Sources: UAW, FCA US LLC, Detroit News