Fiat Chrysler, U.S. union UAW reach tentative agreement

Thu Oct 8, 2015 2:06am EDT
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By Bernie Woodall and Nick Carey

DETROIT/KOKOMO, Ind. (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU.N: Quote)(FCHA.MI: Quote) and the United Auto Workers said on Thursday they had reached a new tentative four-year labor agreement that averted a threatened strike of the automaker’s U.S. operations.

The agreement must be ratified by a vote of Fiat Chrysler's 40,000 union workers in the United States. A previous proposed contract was rejected by rank and file UAW workers at Fiat Chrysler in voting late last month.

Carl Durham, 45, a UAW worker at Fiat Chrysler's transmission plant in Kokomo, Ind., said his support for the new contract would depend on whether it did more than the previous deal to narrow or eliminate the roughly $9-an-hour gap in pay between veteran workers and more recent hires. He said he voted against the previous agreement.

"I want to know all the details and what everyone is going to get, not a lot of ifs," he said.

Neither the union nor the company disclosed details of the new tentative pact. It's not clear whether Fiat Chrysler will spend more than it would have under the proposal it offered the UAW last month.

Workers have said they turned down the previous contract because many wanted a two-tier wage and benefit system eliminated. Short of that, they sought a cap on that lower-paid second tier at 25 percent of the total union workforce. Many workers also wish to undo some of the concessions they have given since 2007 to keep the company competitive.

If this agreement is ratified, the UAW will try to use the pact as a template for negotiations with the U.S. operations of General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) and Ford Motor Co(F.N: Quote).

The UAW Chrysler Council will meet in Detroit at 11 am EDT on Friday to discuss the agreement and vote on it, the union said.   Continued...

A Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly sign is seen in front of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) plant in Warren, Michigan October 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook