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UAW and FCA reach proposed tentative agreement; company to add $4.5 billion in US investment

Eric D. Lawrence and Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

DETROIT -- The UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have reached a proposed tentative agreement that adds nearly 8,000 jobs over the life of the deal. The agreement potentially starts the last lap of months of union and automaker contract wrangling.

The announcement of an agreement came Saturday morning following meetings at FCA's Conner Center in Detroit, formerly the production plant for the Dodge Viper.

The proposal now goes to the UAW FCA National Council, where local union leaders are scheduled to meet Wednesday to decide whether to recommend it to the membership. If they do, the proposal would then face a ratification vote by the approximately 47,200 FCA workers represented by the UAW.

Details of the deal were not released, other than the union saying, "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." Sources said Friday that workers were in line for $9,000 ratification bonuses.

The previous contract expired Sept. 14, but FCA workers represented by the UAW have been working under a contract extension since then.

"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 prepared statement released at 10:54 a.m. in Detroit. "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."

 

UAW acting President Rory Gamble said, "FCA has been a great American success story thanks to the hard work of our members. We have achieved substantial gains and job security provisions for the fastest-growing auto company in the United States. During the previous four-year agreement, FCA added over 6,400 new UAW members."

FCA hourly and salaried members are expected to begin their vote on whether to ratify on Dec. 6, a process that usually takes about two weeks.

The proposal comes two weeks after workers at Ford ratified their agreement. The path at Ford had been considerably easier -- three days of focused bargaining before a deal was reached -- than the experience at General Motors, where workers remained on strike for 40 days before ratification.

The pattern established at GM, which went first in bargaining, set the stage for Ford, and presumably FCA. The Ford and GM contracts saw improvements for temporary and in-progression workers, wage increases -- two 3% annual raises and two 4% lump sum payments -- and no change in health care costs. Permanent GM workers also got $11,000 ratification bonuses, although that was tempered by the cost of the strike. Permanent Ford workers qualified for $9,000 bonuses.

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