The UAW and its top officials are bracing for the final results from the ratification process of the national contract with the third largest automaker in the US – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
According to various reports, the ratification by a majority of the 40.000-strong workforce at FCA was already in danger and now leaked results from assembly plants in Toledo and Sterling Heights is believed to have tipped the balance. This would be the first time UAW workers at FCA (formerly Chrysler) would reject the proposed national agreement and could deliver a critical alarm signal to the automakers and union officials. But coming back to the negotiation room could be difficult as they have to face Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, a known detractor of labor unions in Italy. “They could go back to Chrysler, but it is unclear what that would do,” comments Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “There is always a desire by the company not to change anything.”
In Toledo reports put 87% of production workers and 80% of skilled trades workers who handle the production of top-selling Jeep Wranglers and Cherokee expressed a “no” option, angered by the decision to pull the Cherokee away and move it to the Belvidere plant. That comes after they fought alongside state politicians to keep the Wrangler in place. And six years after the bankruptcy process that led to the creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the company is reaping massive benefits in North America – partly because of the UAW concessions in the wake of the financial crisis.