Fiat Chrysler Dodges Strike At Last Minute

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) in Detroit narrowly avoided a massive strike Thursday with a new labor contract proposal.

The agreement still needs a majority vote to be implemented. Thirty-six thousand hourly workers and 4,000 salaried union members at Fiat are eligible to vote, The New York Times reports. Members have been demanding the end of concession made during the financial disaster of 2008.

“We heard from our members, and went back to FCA to strengthen their contract,” UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement. “We’ve reached a proposed Tentative Agreement that I believe addresses our members’ principal concerns about their jobs and their futures. We have made real gains and I look forward to a full discussion of the terms with our membership.”

Fiat union members voted no to a labor agreement proposed last month by the company. It was the first time Fiat union members voted against a contract in 30 years. A major issue with the proposal is it didn’t disband the concessions.

To help the auto industry withstand the financial crisis, the UAW agreed to give up certain worker rights and privileges. One major concession allows for a two-tier system. Some assembly staff receive substantially less pay than others for same work. The same two-tier system exists to a lesser extent at Ford Motors and General Motors (GM).

Now the economy and car industry are on the upswing. Fiat released a sales report that showed a 1 percent increase in sales compared to the same time last year. In response to the economy improving and industry sales rising, workers are demanding the concession be done with.

Fox News reports neither the union nor the company are disclosing details of the new labor agreement. The UAW Chrysler Council will meet in Detroit Friday to discuss the agreement and vote on it. A failed vote could put the company and union back on the path to a strike.

The union is in a tough spot trying to protect jobs while also catering to the demands of its members. The UAW has also had a tough time negotiating with Ford and GM in Missouri.

UAW cancelled a contract extension with Ford Sept. 29 amid troubled labor negotiations. Afterwards the union sent out strike assistance information.

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