By on September 22, 2016

2015 Chrysler 300S

After securing hundreds of millions of dollars in investments from General Motors and a new lease on life for the Oshawa assembly plant, Canadian Detroit Three autoworkers union Unifor is sharpening its bargaining pens to tackle Fiat Chrysler.

Today, the union identified the automaker as the company next in line to hammer out a contract deal with. After the GM deal, FCA will need to promise something big, and that could mean a commitment to an aging plant filed with aging models.

Under pattern bargaining, the first deal struck sets the pattern for the next round of negotiations. FCA has three facilities in Canada — a Brampton, Ontario, assembly plant that builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger, a Windsor plant that produces Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica minivans, and a casting plant in Etobicoke that manufactures aluminum pistons and die castings.

All eyes will be on Brampton during this bargaining period. Windsor already saw significant investment in the lead-up to Pacifica production, including some government cash afterwards. However, the Brampton facility is old, has one of the oldest paint shops in the industry, and an uncertain future.

It will take more than just a paint shop to make Unifor happy. A deal will likely hinge on promises of future products for Brampton.

“We have one simple message for all the Detroit Three automakers: there will be no deal without commitments to new investments in Canada,” Dias said in a statement.

FCA’s future product schedule (which has proven to be very malleable in the past) calls for the Dodge Charger and Challenger to adopt the Alfa Romeo Giulia platform in 2018. Money will be needed to prep the plant for that its arrival. However, rumors persist about the timing.

The Chrysler 300’s future is more of a mystery.

The automaker’s plans don’t mention a Giulia platform swap for the 300. There could be a redesign in 2020, or a discontinuation, or — as CEO Sergio Marchionne once mulled publicly — a switch to the Pacifica’s front-wheel-drive platform. That would take a product away from Brampton.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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10 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Next in Line for Contract Talks; Brampton Assembly a Major Bargaining Point...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The Brampton plant has a long and checkered history. Suffice to say for now that it started its existence as an AMC production facility.

    And it currently builds the Hellcat!

    • 0 avatar

      First post, mention Hellcat, but no caps words? And its related to the article’s actual subject matter?

      Nice try, but needs work. Ha :)

      The I’ll keep it related, the next 300 needs to go big or go home. Imagine a fatter, heavier 200 with pseudo gangster styling, a less-useful Pacifica sedan/supersized 200. I hope they don’t try to “4-door Coupé” it like the 200. Sergio admitted that was a mistake. I do find the 200 stylish, but have no experience with it so I am basing my opinion on what I’ve read.

      I say build another variation of the new (Giulia) RWD architecture instead, stretch it and focus on comfort and styling that made the 300 what it is.

      Do what Ford did with the Fusion platform to create Continental, only with the Giulia/Charger/etc.

      Let’s be honest, would we have put up with the FWD LH cars this long? No. With a 9 speed, and a Pentastar as the only option? The 300 kept Chrysler dealer doors open in dark times. Another Concorde will destroy what the LX platform has built.

      Taking the 300 to the Fiat-sourced/related Pacifica platform is exactly like the Broughm-esque 1990s stretched K car New Yorker. A marginally decent platform taken too far by Iacocca. The highest entry-luxury car the K car should’ve lent itself to was the Chrysler LeBaron, both sedan and coupe.

      Sergio: don’t put put Mona Lisa’s likeness on a street walker. The market for full size FWD non-luxury sedans is declining, being RWD and with an optional V-8 has made it a stand out against Impala and Taurus.

      Maybe Ford will then create a proper RWD Lincoln super sedan. Not that I don’t like the new Continental or MKZ, but there is room for a RWD evolved and advanced Mustang derivative in the showroom.

    • 0 avatar

      The current Brampton plant dates back to 1985. There was a previous AMC Brampton assembly plant, but that was torn down, so it not that long a history.

      If FCA were run by smart people, the new Wagoneer would be built in Brampton on the Mercedes 120 inch wheelbase, and the 300 could be updated on the same, existing base. Where the Charger and Challenger will be built, other than Brampton, is a question with non-existent dollar signs attached.

      Trucks will be built in the Sterling Heights plant that built the 200, leaving the Warren truck assembly for???, and the Belvidere plant that built the Dart and compact Jeeps will lose the jeeps to Mexico. That’s two big plants that are up in the air. Sergio doesn’t have the models or the money to build them, so there’s nothing but vapor to offer Unifor.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        The other AMC/Chrysler plant in Brampton was closed in 1992. The existing plant is just over 30 years old, but in current conditions that may be a ‘long history’ when compared to the facilities in the southern USA and Mexico, Brazil and south-central Asia, although not as old as those in Michigan and Oshawa/Oakville. Some of the equipment, in particular the paint line are ‘ancient’ when compared to current technology. And how many current auto production facilities can trace their roots to so many ‘failed’ brands?

        Regarding the existing plant (cribbed from Wikipedia): Both the national and provincial governments loaned AMC C$100 million each to build the C$764 million facility.[2] The agreement also included a royalty to the governments equal to 1% of the sales price of every vehicle produced at the facility.
        Rubenstein, James M. (1992). The changing US auto industry: a geographical analysis. Taylor & Francis. p. 264. ISBN 978-0-415-05544-4.

        Yes, pattern bargaining goes both ways. So if UNIFOR gave concessions regarding two-tier wage programs and a defined contribution plan for new hires to GM then FCA will ask for the same.

  • avatar

    I wish the best of luck to our brothers , and sisters, at FCA . Sergio can be a though dude. UNIFOR will have their work , cut out for them.

  • avatar

    Pattern bargaining is a tactic that can backfire since the expectation is that of “more of the same”. Those on the corporate side of the ledger tend to fight the pattern by using it to set the bar at its lowest position. FCA would need to invest much more cash into Canadian plants (it appears) than those run by GM.
    I wonder what Ford thinks? They are the last one on the list.

    I can see various Canadian Governments loving the approach that the union is taking i.e. no contract unless you invest in our future. Unions have learned that in tighter fiscal circumstances asking for any sort of direct wage/benefit increases is suicide. Asking for guaranteed investment plays out much better in the court of public opinion.
    The problem with this approach is the fact that this isn’t Sergio’s first fancon sweater convention so I doubt it will play out without Sergio requesting Government cash on the table.
    No free waltzes with the sweatered one.

    • 0 avatar

      Pattern bargaining also means Unifor will have to sacrifice Defined Benefit pensions in exchange for product. FCA knows exactly when each employee is eligible to retire. They can see the cost savings in every new hire. This alone could tilt the scale in favor (favour?) of more Canadian production because legacy costs will be lower.

  • avatar

    Don’t destroy the only car that makes you relevant Chrysler….

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not Chrysler anymore, it’s Fiat, and all the cars and Jeeps are being converted to Fiat underpinnings, except the Ram trucks. Sergio has a long history at Fiat of letting models wither on the vine, and then dropping them without proper replacement models. The same thing will happen with Chrysler and Dodge.

  • avatar

    Wonder what kind of hairstyle Jerrys gonna have for this round?

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