UPDATE 3-UAW leaders send Fiat Chrysler pact to workers for vote

Fri Oct 9, 2015 5:20pm EDT
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(Adds quotes from UAW president, details of agreement)

By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT Oct 9 (Reuters) - U.S. union United Auto Workers' leaders on Friday approved a tentative four-year contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV , sending the proposed agreement to 40,000 workers for a ratification vote.

The new deal, if ratified, would reshape the way in which UAW workers at Fiat Chrysler are paid, gradually eliminating a contentious two-tier pay structure.

UAW President Dennis Williams admitted he made some false steps that helped lead to the landslide loss for a previous proposed contract in a worker vote. The rejection almost led to a strike at Fiat Chrysler's U.S. operations that was called off minutes before a strike deadline late Wednesday night.

Williams said he misread the intensity for which lower-paid second-tier workers wanted a clear path toward top pay rather than a bridge closer to it, and he should have allowed more time before holding the previous ratification vote.

Friday, in his first hours as marketer-in-chief for the new deal, Williams told reporters in a telephone press conference, "It's one of the biggest contracts we've ever negotiated" with the company.

Several hundred of the UAW's local leaders from its branches, mainly in the U.S. Midwest, met in Detroit on Friday. They gave the new contract and its negotiators several spontaneous standing ovations, Williams said.

It will take eight years from being hired to reach top pay rather than a shorter period for UAW workers prior to the 2007 creation of the two-tier structure.   Continued...