Strong support for UAW-Fiat Chrysler deal at major assembly plants

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Locals representing employees at major assembly plants on Tuesday began to report vote totals on whether to ratify the tentative agreement between the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Results continue to show support for the deal that would provide reduced health-care costs to lower-paid production employees, reduce the time it takes to earn top wages for some employees and provide larger bonuses, including a $9,000 ratification check and improved profit sharing.

More: Follow the UAW-FCA contract vote

UAW-FCA members of Local 140 at the Warren Truck Plant supported the deal with 83% support across both production and skilled trades employees.

And Detroit's Local 1700 production employees at Sterling Heights Assembly were in favor of the agreement with 85% support. Skilled trades workers, however, fell the opposite way with 77% voicing opposition to the deal.

Local 685 members at Kokomo and Tipton Transmission plants in Indiana cast nearly 82% of ballots in support of the agreement. Toledo Machining in Ohio approved it by 64%.

A Mopar parts and distribution center in Cleveland, Ohio, joined support for the agreement that already includes Kokomo Casting and Warren's Local 1248 representing employees at distribution centers in Center Line and Romulus.

Support for the pending UAW-Fiat Chrysler contract remains high in voting at the automaker's plants.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and that ratification bonus is looking pretty good right now compared to going on strike and holding a picket sign," said Art Wheaton, an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School.

Although Fiat Chrysler employees turned down an initial tentative agreement in 2015, the deal at which they are looking this year follows the pattern of ratified contracts at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

"I think it's a pretty good agreement," Wheaton said. "By being the third target it means they have already tested it at GM after their strike and it got quick approval at Ford. Their existing contract was not as good. It is much closer to parity."

Support for the agreement also is good news for Fiat Chrysler as it looks to reach a memorandum of understanding with French automaker Groupe PSA of the Peugeot and Citroën brands, Wheaton added.

For the tentative agreement to be ratified, a majority of all votes cast must be in support of the agreement. The UAW wants vote totals from locals by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble