This year is certain to bring some changes in the positioning of the big Detroit Three and their UAW union, as all actions of both parties are dictated by the specter of the contract talks.
With its fair share of good and bad decisions, 2015 could be called a chess game year for the United Auto Workers union and General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler US – each action is dictated by the possible implications from the other party and every single statement coming from the top officials will be facing intense scrutiny on both sides. That’s because the usual four-year term of the worker contracts is nearing its end, with around 137,000 employees expecting a new one to come into effect after September 14.
The signs are here. Ford’s Mexico investment – worth $2.5 billion – attracted an immediate response from the UAW – which pledged to bring at least the same amount into US production. General Motors on the other hand was more diplomatic – its profit-sharing checks didn’t include the associated cost of record 2014 recalls, even as the formula allowed them to. The company took responsibility and thus earned some good marks for the summer talks. Another showoff will come as GM, Ford and FCA US get ready to report first quarter earnings – workers have perceived the large corporate profits in recent years and want a piece of the pie as well. Additionally, all eyes have turned to executive salaries – Ford chief executive Mark Fields earned $18.6 million last year, GM is going to disclose soon the total remuneration for its top brass and FCA’s Sergio Marchionne topped 2014 with bonuses and compensation worth $38.06 million.