UAW picks Fiat Chrysler as target company in labor talks
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI: Quote) (FCAU.N: Quote) will get the first shot at setting a pattern for wages and benefits for more than 140,000 unionized factory workers at the Detroit Three automakers, the company and the United Auto Workers union said Sunday.
FCA Executive Sergio Marchionne has been the most vocal among Detroit CEOs in calling for an end to the current wage system under which recently-hired UAW workers earn about 40 percent less per hour than union veterans on the assembly line.
UAW leaders have called for narrowing or eliminating the pay gap, pointing to the robust profits rolling in from sales of the trucks and sport utility vehicles UAW members build.
If FCA and the UAW cannot come to terms, the union could order strikes, potentially hobbling FCA's production of its highest-profit U.S. models.
The UAW's lead negotiator at Chrysler, Norwood Jewell, has said in messages to members that job security and pay increases are his top priorities.
Looming over the UAW's negotiations with FCA, GM and Ford are the growing number of U.S. auto plant workers who are not members of the union and work for European and Asian automakers in the southern United States.
The more flexible work rules at non-union factories, and in certain cases lower wages and benefits, could put limits on the UAW's aspirations, analysts said. Continued...