Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Unifor, the union representing FCA’s approximately 9,000 Canadian autoworkers, have reached a tentative contract deal, averting a possible strike late Wednesday.
With only minutes to go before the 11:59 p.m. strike deadline, Unifor announced that a deal had been reached.
No details were provided, but the company confirmed a tentative deal had been reached and said details would be provided at a later date.
The negotiations with FCA followed successful contract talks between Ford and the union last month. General Motors is set to be the third company to negotiate in the pattern bargaining once things wrap up with FCA. The contracts cover about 17,000 of the more than 19,000 Detroit Three autoworkers represented by the union.
FCA has the largest number of Unifor-represented employees.
The biggest concern Unifor officials had highlighted related to job security, particularly in light of FCA’s decision to cut the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant where the Chrysler Pacifica minivan is built. Unifor indicated earlier this week that FCA was pushing back on the pattern and refusing to make concrete investment commitments.
“In fact, FCA continues to challenge the union on key elements of the pattern agreement, including on items relating to wages and lump sums, health care benefits and other matters. The union continues to wait for firm commitments on facility investments and product allocations, and National President Jerry Dias is in regular discussion with FCA executives in Auburn Hills on this,” the union said in an update to its members Tuesday.
The company, via spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin, said it is “committed to reaching an agreement that will allow us to continue investing in our future and create opportunities for our employees, their families and the communities where we live and work.”
Last month, Unifor members ratified a three-year contract Ford which included wage increases, bonuses and a big investment to bring battery electric vehicle production to the Oakville Assembly Plant, where the Ford Edge is currently produced.
Ford’s deal with Unifor in Canada included a government sweetener, with both the federal and provincial governments committing 295 million (Canadian dollars) each to the project. It wasn’t clear if any such offer had been made related to FCA.
John Power, a spokesperson for Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said talks between the automaker and the union were being monitored.
“Our government has always been at the table to support Canadian auto workers — from investing in the sector to secure tens of thousands of jobs since 2015, to negotiating the new NAFTA, to creating a policy vision toward an all-Canadian electric vehicle supply chain from mining to battery manufacturing,” Power said.
Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Industry, Labor & Economics Group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, highlighted the impact on the talks of the proposed merger between the maker of Peugeot and FCA. That blockbuster merger, should it be completed next year as company officials have indicated, would create the world’s fourth-largest automaker.
“FCA doesn’t necessarily have the product or investment that Ford committed to Unifor, especially given they are mid-merger with PSA. Unifor membership will want a deal that’s comparable, though. The economics and broad contours of the deal were set at Ford. Tailoring that to fit different circumstances at FCA could be very challenging,” Dziczek said before the tentative deal was announced.
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