UAW Aims to Salvage a Fiat Chrysler Pact – Wall Street Journal

Posted: Monday, October 05, 2015

The UAW will explore the willingness of Fiat’s CEO to sweeten offers. Pictured, a Chrysler Ram 1500 truck goes through the assembly line at a plant  in Warren, Mich.
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With the threat of a strike at Ford Motor Co.
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averted, United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams will attempt to restart negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
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NV this week as he looks to salvage a new national contract.

Mr. Williams will explore the willingness of Fiat Chrysler Chief Sergio Marchionne to sweeten previous offers in the tentative agreement that was overwhelmingly rejected by union members last week, according to two people close to the process.

One such move may be boosting the $3,000 signing bonus promised to Fiat Chrysler’s 37,000 union members if they adopt the contract.

Mr. Williams had hoped to use a deal worked out with Fiat Chrysler as a pattern contract for Ford Motor and General Motors Co.
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That goal came to a halt last week leaving Mr. Williams to find a new strategy. Workers at all three auto makers have been operating under contract extensions since Sept. 14.

Meanwhile, a potential strike at a Ford pickup truck plant was averted late Friday night when the union and company reached a tentative contract agreement. Local 249 union members were preparing to walk off the job Sunday over a variety of unresolved issues at the Claycomo, Mo., plant, which produces F-150 pickup trucks and Transit vans. Plants typically reach their own accords with the auto makers that are separate from the national contract.

While it would have been relatively small, a strike at Ford’s Claycomo plant would have presented a major distraction for the UAW and would have the potential to stir up ill will on both sides.

“I think we have reached an agreement that our members will be proud of,” Local 249 bargaining chief Todd Hillyard said in a social media posting late Friday. “We protected all of our members seniority rights, improved safety provisions along with many other things.”

Plant operations will continue as normal, Ford said. A Sunday shift at the plant had been canceled and shipments of truck frames had been diverted to the company’s Dearborn, Mich., plant, which also builds the F-150.

“Working with our UAW partners, we have resolved the open items at Kansas City Assembly Plant and have agreed to a tentative local agreement,” Ford said.

A worker in March inspects a new 2015 Ford F-150 truck at the company's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo. Ford and the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative contract agreement, averting a strike set for Sunday at this pickup truck plant.
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Write to Jeff Bennett at jeff.bennett@wsj.com

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