The United Auto Workers (UAW) announced Thursday it has finally reached a labor agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) after a rough round of labor talks.
Unhappy union workers were at the heart of the negotiations. They put pressure on both sides and even threatened the company with striking. Workers demanded the end of recession-era concessions and were quick to shoot down any previous agreement that didn’t. At 77 percent, however, the latest agreement has finally managed to gain enough support.
“UAW members at FCA have obtained a strong agreement that provides substantial wage gains, fairness in the workplace, and job security,” UAW FCA US Vice President Norwood Jewell said in a statement. “Because of the strength and support from our membership, our bargaining team was able to negotiate a contract which promises a secure future for our members, their families and their communities.”
Thirty-six thousand hourly workers and 4,000 salaried union members at Fiat were eligible to vote. The main issue was concession made during the financial disaster of 2008. Fiat union members voted no to a labor agreement proposed last month by the company because it didn’t end the concessions. The rejection was the first time Fiat union members voted against a contract in 30 years.
With the improved economy, workers saw little need to continue the concessions. To help the auto industry withstand the financial crisis, the UAW agreed to give up certain worker rights and privileges at the time. That’s all changed with Fiat recently reporting that sales have had a 1 percent increase compared to the same time last year. The demands to end the concessions put the union in a tough spot. It tried to protect jobs while also catering to the demands of its members.
One major concession allows for a two-tier system. Some assembly staff receive substantially less pay than others for same work. To a lesser degree the same two-tier system exists at Ford Motors and General Motors (GM). With a FCA labor agreement finally in place, the union can now focus its attention on the Ford and GM.
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