Union leaders were to meet tomorrow (Thursday) to determine their next steps after rank-and-file members rejected a tentative four-year wage and benefit deal with Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA). FCA was the lead firm in this round of contract talks between the domestic Big Three and the auto industry. Some 40,000 FCA employees turned down the four-year package, leaving union leaders to ponder their actions. The possibility of a strike against the auto industry is looming larger.
According to Automotive News, the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union that represents 137,000 rank-and-file workers for the domestic Big Three, General Motors, Ford and FCA, the union leaders can:
Reopen contract talks
Move on to talks with GM or Ford
Typically, the autoworkers and one of the domestic market leaders will hash out a basic contract and details. If it is approved by the workers, the contract then becomes the pattern for talks with the other players in the industry. Since there has been no agreement at FCA, things are in a state of flux.
Kristin Dziczek, director of the Center for Automotive Research, a labor and industry group headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the prospect of a UAW strike at FCA is much higher than it was yesterday. She indicated if the UAW used a selected strike against the transmission plant in Kokomo, the union would cut the production of highly profitable Jeep and RAM pickup by 75 percent. By selectively striking a key plant, the UAW would avoid the harm a general strike would cause because those workers simply idled by a labor action at one plant could collect nearly a full week’s pay in strike benefits.
A source familiar with Big Three production costs told the automotive trade paper that a general strike could easily cost FCA $500 million per week. Ford or GM would lose $1 billion.