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OPINION

Column: Contract creates FCA stability

Norwood Jewell

Employee A works hard to meet the performance and quality goals the corporation sets, believing that the expected bonuses for hitting those goals will be there as management promised when it rolled out its latest incentive program.

Employee B works at a different corporation. She works just as hard to successfully meet her corporation’s goals. The only difference between Employee A and Employee B is that Employee B has far more confidence that the bonus will actually be paid as promised.

Employee B has a UAW contract with language that addresses these types of performance and quality bonuses. There’s no unilateral changing of the rules once the program starts. There’s no question of who is eligible for the bonuses. Hit the goals and bonuses are paid. Period.

That’s the kind of stability and prosperity a union contract can bring and that our members at Fiat Chrysler Automotive North America are enjoying right now. The hard work our hourly and salaried members have put in has paid off handsomely. This is in large part due to the foresight and hard work of the 2015 UAW National Negotiating Committee at FCA, which bargained one of the most financially lucrative agreements since the 1990s.

When FCA and the UAW were forced to suspend bonuses and, for the most part, wage increases after the 2009 bankruptcy, the UAW team at FCA was successful in winning them back for the term of the 2015 agreement. After bargaining, the corporation agreed to extend performance, quality and skilled trades performance awards to FCA’s union employees

To date, FCA has paid out just over $30 million in quality and workplace methodology awards in the 18 months since the ratification of the agreement. This is in addition to the $142 million in upfront lump-sum payments upon ratification and the new streamlined profit-sharing program that brought more than $200 million to UAW members in 2017 alone.

In total, UAW members have received $77 million in performance bonus payments to be paid biannually. Between the performance bonus years, traditional members will receive the 3 percent increases in base pay and newer, in-progression members will enjoy annual pay rate increases from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour depending on service seniority.

Collective bargaining makes a tremendous difference in the lives of autoworkers, not only at the Detroit 3, but at indirect suppliers and other service providers. FCA remains one of the fastest-growing companies in the world and through bargaining, the UAW has agreed with FCA to make its members’ income reflect their hard work. As FCA continues to grow and increase profit margins, UAW members can look forward to the next set of bargaining with the goals of improving their lives at work, the lives of their families, and their communities.

Norwood Jewell is a UAW vice president and director of the union’s FCA NA Department.

Labor voices

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams or executive leadership, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Michigan Education Association President Steven Cook.