United Auto Workers members seem to have taken matters to the full extent of their bargaining options, getting ready for a walk out at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV factories in the US as soon as Wednesday evening.
The UAW rank and file members could go on strike at the third biggest US automaker for the first time since 2007, threatening with the most extreme measure after they also soundly rejected last week the agreement inked by the union officials and the company executives. According to ean McAlinden, chief economist with the Center for Automotive Research, if the manufacturing operations at US plants are ceased, FCA US stands to lose around $40 million a week in operating profit. It appears that so far the details are not yet clear if every single Fiat Chrysler facility would be involved, though several plants in Kokomo, Indiana, and at least one in Michigan have the workers standing by after receiving notices to be ready to strike. Going on strike was not available to the UAW for FCA or General Motors because of the deal signed following the 2009 government-sponsored bankruptcies but the option has been renewed as of this year.
The UAW now needs to find a careful line between showcasing the company it has the force and will to hit it where it hurts the most – profits – though in the long term actually striking would be bad both for the group and its workers as the FCA US is the weakest of the Detroit Three automakers. “Chrysler is not in great financial shape, no matter what the UAW members may think. The company is the weakest of the (Detroit Three) so a long strike would hurt them,” comments Arthur Schwartz, a labor consultant.