Fiat Chrysler vs UAW

By on October 14, 2015


Fiat Chrysler and the United Auto Works Union at Odds, Possible Work Stoppage Ahead

The United Auto Workers union has told Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, that its workers are prepared to begin a work stoppage on Wednesday night unless there is a new contract agreement, the company announced on Tuesday.

A statement sent to Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. vice president for employee relations, Glenn Shagena, by the UAW’s lead Fiat Chrysler negotiator, Norwood Jewell, said the current four-year contract extension would expire at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

The notice did not specify whether the union would call a strike at some or all of the 37 U.S. Fiat Chrysler assembly, transmission and stamping plants and other operations where 40,000 UAW members work.

Fiat Chrysler said in a statement that it received strike notification from the union and that “the Company continues to work with the UAW in a constructive manner to reach a new agreement.”

A worker at the Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana said on Tuesday his union steward has told workers there to prepare to strike at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night. The Automotive News reported that strike notices were posted at the Kokomo Castings Plant, also in Kokomo.

The company’s assembly plants would come to a screeching halt if the castings plant or the transmissions plants in Indiana conduct walks outs. If the union calls for a strike, the company’s profit center in North America would take a major hit.

A company-wide strike could cost it $40 million a week in operating profit, said Sean McAlinden, chief economist with the Center for Automotive Research.

Since the U.S. auto market rebounded after the Chrysler bankruptcy in 2009, which included a management takeover by Italy’s Fiat, the U.S. has been the driver of company profits.

Last week, 65 percent of Fiat Chrysler unionized workers voting rejected a proposed four-year contract.

The UAW has an extension in place for the existing four-year contracts at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. They were extended before their scheduled expiration on Sept. 14th.

The UAW has yet to enter focused negotiations with Ford or GM. It chose Fiat Chrysler to reach an agreement with first, which is then used largely as a pattern for the other two Detroit automakers.

Last week’s rejection was the first time since 1976 that UAW rank-and-file voted down a tentative national contract agreed by the union and the company it targeted for the first pact.