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UAW strikes tentative deal with Fiat Chrysler

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

If approved by membership, the contract would be the final one in the union’s pattern bargaining with the “Detroit Big 3.”

On November 30, the United Auto Workers (UAW) announced that hourly workers, both production and skilled trades, have reached a “proposed tentative agreement” with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US LLC). The move follows earlier membership approval of contracts with the two other companies in the “Detroit Big 3″—Ford and General Motors.

The UAW-FCA National Council will be meeting on December 4 go over details of the proposal, which if adopted as a tentative agreement will go to all FCA hourly and salary members for a ratification vote to begin on December 6.

Pattern bargaining. The UAW has employed a pattern bargaining strategy under which it first tackled important new gains at GM, and then looked for similar gains from Ford and FCA.

On November 15, the union announced that the UAW membership at Ford had ratified a contract that included an economic package of a $9,000 per full-time member signing bonus, performance bonuses, two 3 percent annual raises and two 4 percent lump sum payments, and held the line on health care costs.

The Ford deal was ratified by 56.3 percent of the membership. Under that agreement, employees and temporary employees will be at the top-rate for full-time status at the end of the four-year agreement.

On October 25, the UAW announced the ratification of the collective bargaining agreement with GM, which brought to conclusion a strike by about 48,000 workers that began on September 16. The strike drew broad support. The union called it “the longest automotive strike in 50 years.”

“Our UAW Bargaining Committee worked diligently, over many months, during the General Motors strike and Ford negotiations to maintain productive negotiations with FCA,” UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, director of the UAW-FCA Department, said in a statement. “The pattern bargaining strategy has been a very effective approach for the UAW and its members to negotiate economic gains around salary, benefits, and job security. In addition to the $4.5 billion in major investments previously announced, negotiators secured an additional $4.5 billion for a total of $9 billion of investments adding 7,900 jobs during the contract period.”

FCA corruption. The FCA-UAW proposed deal follows a string of corruption revelations that most recently prompted GM to file a lawsuit against FCA (FCA US LLC), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and former FCA executives who have pleaded guilty in the high-profile and ongoing federal corruption probe over union bribes. The federal racketeering lawsuit centers around what GM sees as a “multi-year pattern of corruption that FCA used to undermine the integrity of the collective bargaining process and cause GM substantial damages.”

GM characterizes the Italian company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., as having managed to win U.S. government support “in obtaining operational control, for no cash, over an iconic U.S. auto company, Chrysler Group LLC.” Soon after the federal government-approved acquisition, FCA Group betrayed both the federal government’s and the U.S. auto industry’s trust and “embarked on a systemic and near decade-long conspiracy to bribe senior union officials to corrupt the collective bargaining process and labor relations,” GM alleges.