Bloomberg is reporting that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has resumed talks with the UAW’s retiree health care trust (aka VEBA) to buy the 41.5% of Chrysler that the Italian automaker doesn’t yet own. Fiat executives met last week with the trust’s representatives. The proposed initial public offering of Chrysler stock has been delayed for tax reasons until next year, creating a window of opportunity for a deal. Differing valuations on the stock prompted VEBA’s demand for the IPO, which would establish a market price for the stock, most likely more than Marchionne and the Agnelli family that controls Fiat want to pay. (Read More…)
Norwood Jewell, a nominee to become a UAW vice-president, said that the autoworkers want to eliminate the two-tier wage system that pays new hires at a lower rate than higher seniority workers. The wage system was agreed to by the union to help the domestic automakers as they went through financial troubles when the economy turned down in 2007. New workers are paid slightly more than half of what veteran autoworkers earn.
“The international executive board hates two-tiers,” Jewell told Automotive News at a General Motors Co plant in Flint, Mich. as the automaker was announcing $1.3 billion in investments in some of its plants in the U.S. midwest, mostly in Michigan. Jewell is currently director of UAW’s Flint region. ”We didn’t do two tiers because it’s a wonderful thing,” he said, explaining that the financial circumstances six years ago more or less forced the two tier wages on the union. “We hate them. We intend to eliminate them over time.” (Read More…)
Though Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne had previously said that an initial public offering of Chrysler stock could take place by the end of 2013, the Italian automaker announced that stock sale will not take place before the new year. ”The Board of Directors of Chrysler Group … has determined that it will not be practicable for Chrysler Group to launch and complete an initial public offering prior to the end of 2013,” Fiat said in a statement.
With United Auto Workers president Bob King restricted by union bylaws from being reelected, the union is preparing to select his replacement. Industry watchers expect UAW secretary-treasurer Dennis Williams to be selected next month at a meeting of the UAW’s administrative caucus. Since all but one UAW presidents have been selected by the administrative caucus, the move will likely pave the way for Williams to succeed King, whose term ends in nine months. Before taking the national secretary-treasurer position Williams was the union’s Chicago area regional director.
The UAW has enlisted the help of the German IG Metall labor union in its effort to organize Volkswagen’s U.S. operations. Now Fiat has apparently gotten the union that represents its Italian workers, Fim Cisl, to reach out to UAW officials in an effort to resolve the issue of just how much Fiat is going to pay the UAW’s retiree health benefits trust for the 41.5% of Chrysler the VEBA owns. Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to merge the two companies and that can’t be done without buying that stock. Fiat and the VEBA sides are more than a billion dollars apart. (Read More…)
More drama in the ongoing Volkswagen unionization fight in Chattanooga: Volkswagen USA is not keen on the union, while Volkswagen’s management board is divided on the matter. One thing that seems certain is the prospect of a secret ballot vote on the union, according to Reuters.
The head of Volkswagen’s Works Council may soon be paying a visit to workers at Chattanooga to discuss the prospect of a works council. Reuters reports that Bernd Osterloh will be headed down south for a “dialogue” about representation. The UAW will not be present at the talks, but representatives of both VW and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union, will be in attendance.
Despite the UAW’s absence, the union and IG Metall have their respective ties, with UAW head Bob King acting as IG Metall’s labor representative on Opel’s supervisory board. The meeting is also occurring as the anti-union camp digs in its heels with a campaign aimed at thwarting the UAW’s organization drive.
A group of workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant is circulating a petition aimed at stopping the UAW’s attempt to organize the plant.
After Fiat and Chrysler’s retired UAW workers’ health care benefits trust were unable to agree on a price for the Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association‘s 41.5% share in the Auburn Hills automaker, at the trust’s request Chrysler has filed initial paperwork for a public stock offering to sell part of the VEBA’s stake, about 16% of overall Chrysler shares, the first time in over a decade that the public will be able to own shares in Chrysler, which formerly was wholly owned by Cerberus and before that Daimler. Fiat certainly would rather the IPO not take place now as it complicates Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plans for the Italian automaker to acquire full ownership of Chrysler. The benefits trust has the legal right to force Chrysler to make the stock offering so the VEBA can cash out on the shares it received in exchange for giving up financial claims against Chrysler during the company’s bankruptcy and bailout by governments in the United States and Canada.
On Friday, Sergio Marchionne, who heads Fiat and Chrysler, told reporters in Milan, Italy that he hasn’t gotten any closer to making a deal with the UAW’s retiree health care trust for Fiat to purchase the VEBA’s shares in Chrysler and take full ownership of the Auburn Hills automaker. The UAW health care trust owns 41.5% of Chrysler and the two parties have not been able to agree on a price. The trust is demanding $5 billion for its shares. Marchionne told the LaPresse news agency, concerning the UAW trust’s suggested price, “They should buy a lottery ticket.” (Read More…)
Reuters is reporting that in an interview with the German Handelsblatt newspaper, United Auto Workers president Bob King said that a majority of workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee have signed cards supporting the UAW in the creation of a German-style works council at the factory. “Yes, we have a majority,” UAW President Bob King said.
Negotiations between Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers over the UAW’s possible representation of workers at VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant began last Friday, according to the German newspaper, the Handelsblatt and Automotive News. The newspaper also reported that UAW president Bob King and VW board member for human resources, Horst Neumann discussed the establishment of a German style “works council” to represent factory workers at the plant. VW and the UAW both declined comment. (Read More…)
This weekend was the end-of-summer graduation at Auburn, and like all such events, it brought an avalanche of rental cars to our Loveliest Village on the Plains™. Amidst the ubiquitous Chryslerbishis and engineering-excellence-cum-fleet-staple Camrys, I spotted a couple of newish Jettas and Passats wandering about town, crooked rental bar stickers applied with obvious indifference. I saw one particular rental Jetta sitting in the parking lot not far from the bookstore when I went to pick up some cut-price tomes. Coated in dust and wearing those ugly DUI-style New York plates, it was a forlorn sight. I couldn’t help but think of it as a reminder that the road to hell can be paved with tax breaks as often as it’s paved with good intentions; at least that’s the case if you happen to be governor of Tennessee.
Sergio Marchionne’s plans to merge Chrysler and Fiat have been delayed because Fiat failed to convince a Delaware Chancery Court judge to set the value of Chrysler stock owned by the UAW’s health care fund known as VEBA. Judge Donald Parsons rejected Fiat’s request to find that a call-option agreement covering at least 54,000 Chrysler shares valued the stock at slightly less than $140 million. That decision means that the dispute over the shares’ value will now proceed to trial. (Read More…)
Having failed to learn from previous mistakes, Volkswagen is inexplicably bringing the Phaeton back to North America, despite being totally contradictory to their push downmarket to appeal to mainstream American car shoppers.