UAW Menaces Strike at Fiat Chrysler, Al Jazeera America

UAW menaces strike at Fiat Chrysler

United Auto Workers (UAW) members are planning to strike at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) U.S. plants as soon as 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, the very first work stoppage since 2007, menacing to bring manufacturing to a halt.

A strike at its U.S. operations could cost the automaker $40 million a week in operating profit, saidВ Sean McAlinden, chief economist with theВ Center for Automotive Research.

Workers at several plants inВ Kokomo,В Indiana, and at least one inВ MichiganВ received notices to be ready to strike but it was not clear whether all Fiat Chrysler plants would be involved.

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UAW aims to abolish dual wage system

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“FCA US confirms that it has received strike notification from the UAW,” the company said in a statement Tuesday, reported the Detroit Free Press. “The company proceeds to work with the UAW in a constructive manner to reach a fresh agreement,” the statement proceeds, suggesting talks continued at some level.

Kristin Dziczek, labor analyst with theВ Center for Automotive Research, said the last time theВ UAWВ took the company, then known as Chrysler, out on strike it was in 2007. That strike, in the 2nd week of October, lasted six hours.

The strike weapon was not available to theВ UAWВ until this year for Fiat Chrysler or General Motors as part of the two thousand nine government-sponsored bankruptcies at those companies. The union’s four-year contracts with all three automakers expired on Sept. 14, but workers have remained on the job under a contract extension.

Union members overwhelmingly rejected a tentative agreement with the company last week, with members calling for an end to a two-tier pay structure, more specific ensures of fresh vehicles for U.S. factories and a come back of cost-of-living pay raises that the union gave up to help the company in bad times.

Sixty-five percent of FCA’s union workers voted against the four-year deal. UAW President Dennis Williams said after the rejection that he would come back to the bargaining table with Fiat Chrysler in an effort to get a deal that would be ratified. The union represents about 40,000 workers mainly at twenty three FCA factories in the Midwest.

Arthur Schwartz, a labor consultant and former negotiator with GM, said, “This is the union’s play now. It is up to them what happens.”

Schwartz saidВ UAWВ PresidentВ Dennis WilliamsВ would not want a lengthy strike because of the ache it could inflict on his members and Fiat Chrysler.

“Chrysler is not in excellent financial form, no matter what the UAW members may think,” he said. “The company is the weakest of the (Detroit Three) so a long strike would hurt them.”

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