By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) – United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams said on Thursday the union has not taken a position on merger comments made by Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive, but said he would oppose any plan that would cut union-represented jobs.
The union is evaluating outcomes of a possible merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with General Motors Co or any other company, Williams told a news conference at UAW headquarters in Detroit.
The UAW is the largest shareholder of GM stock.
“We’re not going to support anything that would hurt our members,” Williams said. “I want to be very thoughtful about examining things before I comment too heavily on them.”
He said that before deciding whether to support any merger, he has to consider how major changes at FCA might affect UAW members perhaps 10 years down the line.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has proposed a merger of FCA and GM. Marchionne has been conducting a campaign to persuade rivals and investors that the auto industry needs another round of consolidation.
FCA and GM have turned to investment banks to deal with a stand-off as Marchionne’s approach has been rebuffed by GM.
GM is being advised by Goldman Sachs, while FCA is working with UBS on the matter, several sources said, with one adding that Morgan Stanley was also working with GM.
The UAW is gearing up for next month’s start of contract negotiations with GM, FCA and Ford Motor Co. Labor contracts for unionized workers at the three Detroit automakers expire on Sept. 14.
Williams said he does not think that a potential merger of FCA with GM or any other company will impact those talks.
He said UAW members at FCA are more concerned with their pay and benefits than they are worried about the health of the automaker, which he said was solid.
Williams said he has not selected a “target” among the three automakers. Traditionally, the UAW has picked one of the three companies to focus on and reach an agreement with first and then use that contract as a basic pattern for the other two.
He said the fact that Ford’s negotiating staff is the most experienced does not mean that company will be first.
“Eventually, you will recognize the lead” during the negotiations, said Williams.
“When it comes to the lead, I don’t plan on picking it until I see it.”
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
- Fiat Chrysler
- Sergio Marchionne
- United Auto Workers