Early voting supports approval of UAW-Fiat Chrysler labor deal
Early voting results to ratify a tentative labor agreement between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and the United Auto Workers are positive, but some local leaders are voicing opposition.
Voting by rank-and-file member on the new contract started Friday. If ratification is successful, the proposed agreement — which offers less expensive health-care coverage for most employees, pathways to top wages and $9,000 signing bonuses — it mark the end of a season marked by turbulent labor talks between the union and the Detroit Three. But experts have said ratification at Fiat Chrysler could be a challenge after employees there turned down an initial tentative agreement in 2015.
The tentative deal already has won support from two UAW locals. It needs a majority of votes to be ratified. The UAW wants results from locals by 4 p.m. Wednesday.
UAW-FCA members at Indiana's Kokomo Casting Plant overwhelmingly voted in favor of the deal with 89% support from production workers and 75% support from skilled trades in Local 1166. Fiat Chrysler plans to invest $15 million there and add 25 jobs in 2020 as part of a plan to build a plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler.
"They're definitely excited about new work coming to Kokomo," said Scott Flatford, 1166 president. "Most of them, once they explained the contract and got their questions answered, overall they thought it was a good contract."
UAW 1248 in Warren, which represents employees at Mopar parts and distribution centers in Center Line and Romulus, also supported the deal with 88% of non-skilled employees casting yes votes, along with 95% of skilled workers.
UAW leaders of Local 961 in Marysville are calling on members to reject the deal. Under the tentative agreement, Fiat Chrysler after two years would unload the Marysville Axle Plant to its partner in the joint operation, ZF Group of Germany. Fiat Chrysler employees would have the opportunity to transfer to other facilities or stay with ZF, according to a union summary of the deal.
"We have an obligation not only to ourselves, but families. future generations of workers, our communities we live in and society in general," Local 961 President Mike Booth and Vice President Jim Coakley wrote in a letter to members. "Equality for all! This contract does not embrace this philosophy."
The local in February sued the Italian American automaker to keep the facility operating as-is until a federal corruption investigation into the UAW in which Fiat Chrysler was named as a co-conspirator is completed. Booth alleged Marysville was hurt by a bribery scheme that brought forth convictions of three former Fiat Chrysler executives and several UAW officials, including a former vice president. The federal probe may only be halfway complete, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider recently told The Detroit News.
Booth and a UAW spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.
Several major assembly plants still are yet to vote. Voting for Sterling Heights Assembly's Local 1700 ends at 4 p.m. Monday. Local 186 in Denver, 230 in Ontario and 1435 at Toledo Machining also will cast votes Monday.