FCA Sterling Heights workers face lower profit-sharing

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Extended downtime and temporary layoffs for about 3,000 union workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant could lead to smaller profit-sharing checks and smaller bonuses.

According to the most recent UAW contract signed last fall, profit sharing is based off “compensated hours,” which include hours worked as well as training and other job-related activities. Temporary layoffs do not count for compensated hours.

That means that workers in Sterling Heights would receive less than their counterparts at other Fiat Chrysler plants because they’ve been temporarily laid off since Feb. 1 because of lagging demand for the Chrysler 200 sedan made there. Workers at the automaker earned up to $4,000 in profit sharing last year; checks went out last month.

Traditional workers are also scheduled to receive a 4 percent lump-sum bonus in the second and fourth year of the contract which are based on how many hours they work. Next year that bonus will be about $2,400 for a typical production worker. But if a worker is laid off for large parts of the year — like the Sterling Heights workers will be — he or she would earn less than normal and won’t receive as large a bonus.

Workers at the plant were to return to work March 14, but Fiat Chrysler last week extended the downtime to April 4.

Charles Bell, president of UAW Local 1700, which represents workers at Sterling Heights Assembly, did not return requests for comment. An FCA spokeswoman declined to comment.

Bell has said about 2,600 of the plant’s 3,000-plus employees are laid off. Others, including some skilled trades and repair workers, continue to work at the plant to maintain machinery and conduct repairs, even though cars are not being produced. The layoffs also affect about 150 workers at Sterling Stamping.

The extended shutdown comes roughly six weeks after Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company plans to stop producing the 200 in the coming years, even after it was fully redesigned for the 2015 model year.

Marchionne said the company was continuing discussions with potential partners that could “provide a product from their facilities” to allow the company to cover gaps in the lineup left by the 200 and the Dodge Dart, which also will be phased out.

Chrysler 200 U.S. sales through the first two months of the year were down 61 percent compared to the same time period a year ago; fewer than 12,000 vehicles sold.

Workers at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have similar rules about profit-sharing in their contracts.

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

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