UAW, FCA reach tentative labor agreement

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DETROIT – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on a four-year labor contract covering wages, benefits and job security for 47,200 workers, the union and company said Saturday.

The UAW did not immediately provide details of the deal but it’s expected to follow the framework set by contracts the union has ratified with General Motors and Ford Motor Co. Those deals include signing bonuses of at least $9,000, wage increases, no change to health care costs and a path for temporary employees to attain full-time status.

A council made up of officers from UAW locals that represent Chrysler workers around the country must approve the agreement before it’s presented to members for ratification, a spokesman said. The union said the council will review the pact on Wednesday Dec. 4.

If cleared by the council, FCA workers would hold ratification votes starting Friday Dec. 6, the union said.

“Out of respect for our members, we will refrain from commenting any further or releasing full details of the agreement until the UAW-FCA Council leaders meet and review the details,” Cindy Estrada, head of the union’s FCA bargaining unit, said in a statement.

Under the proposed deal, the UAW secured a signing a bonus of $9,000 with FCA, according to several media reports. FCA, which is adding factory capacity in the U.S. to expand the Jeep lineup, has also agreed not close any plants and slot new product in an Illinois assembly plant, Bloomberg reported.

Estrada said negotiators secured an additional $4.5 billion of investments during talks, in addition to previous plans for a $4.5 billion investment to open a new assembly plant in Detroit and revamp several other facilities in Southeast Michigan. The $9 billion in investments will add 7,900 jobs during the contract period, the union said.

The company said it would provide details of the pact at a later date.

Long wait

FCA workers waited during a 40-day UAW strike at GM and then it took three weeks for the union to get a deal with Ford ratified before FCA talks went back on the front burner.

Several major developments emerged during the FCA negotiations: In late October, the company announced it planned to merge with France’s PSA Group, a move that would create the world’s fourth-largest automaker. That news has been met with skepticism from some workers, and it came just four months after FCA backed out of a potential merger with Renault, another French automaker.

Last week, GM filed a racketeering lawsuit claiming that FCA corrupted labor contracts signed with the union in 2011 and 2015. UAW President Gary Jones also resigned.

A sweeping federal corruption probe of the UAW and FCA has resulted in charges against 13 people, 10 of whom have pleaded guilty.

Ratification of the FCA deal could be more difficult than at GM and Ford because of distrust created by the widening corruption atop the union. In 2015, UAW workers rejected the first tentative agreement reached with FCA and secured a better contract as a result.

One worker who asked not to be identified said he can’t imagine “voting to accept the first few offers. This is not only on a monetary or benefits basis, but also on working conditions.”

FCA has added more than 20,000 hourly manufacturing employees since 2009, and temporary workers make up 13 percent of its workforce, the company said in October. During the 2015 contract talks, FCA expanded its ability to use temporary workers from just Mondays, Fridays and weekends to all week. Going into talks, FCA was again looking to expand the number of temps it uses to cover absenteeism.

FCA says temps are one of the few levers it can pull that exerts downward pressure on labor costs, which at $55 an hour are the lowest among the Detroit 3.

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