By on October 11, 2016

FCA - Auburn Hills

A weekend meeting with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne led to a final-hour tentative agreement between the automaker and the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, Unifor president Jerry Dias claims.

The deal, announced five minutes before Monday’s 11:59 p.m. strike deadline, means 3,500 Brampton assembly plant workers face a less uncertain future than before.

Bargaining teams faced “major obstacles” in reaching the agreement, Diaz claimed, with the last sticking point cleared a few hours before the deadline.

“This is happening because of Marchionne,” Dias said, crediting his “straight talk” with the CEO.

As part of the agreement, FCA has committed to a $345 million ($325 million CAD) upgrade of the Brampton plant’s paint shop, one of the oldest in the industry. The upgrade, described as a complete rebuild, was Unifor’s biggest investment demand in this round of bargaining.

“If you don’t have a paint shop, you don’t have a commitment to investment, and that creates incredible uncertainty,” Dias said. “Our members in Brampton have been on eggshells for years.”

The paint shop rebuild will begin during the summer shutdown of 2017.

FCA’s Etobicoke casting plant will see equipment upgrades as part of the deal, but job losses may still be in the cards. Some workers threatened by the demise of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart will be moved to Brampton, with about 150 to 200 workers making the switch during the seemingly temporary slowdown.

Unifor uses pattern bargaining to seal contracts with the Detroit Three, meaning the first agreement guides the following two. FCA has agreed to the pay grid and pension changes seen in the recent Unifor-GM Canada deal.

The agreement sees traditional hires gain a 4-percent wage increase over the life of the contract. New hires will now see pay increases in each year of their 10-year pay grid, instead of staying static for the first three. Entry-level employees will gain a $6,000 signing bonus, plus lump sum payments, and those hired after September 16 will be enrolled in a defined contribution pension plan.

The issue of government funding came up, but Dias wasn’t talking dollar figures. He did say his team met with representatives from the Ontario government, and plan to meet with federal representatives soon. Dias claims there will be a “much broader discussion in Canada” about the auto industry in the years to come, and the sector “needs the government to participate.” Unifor “will be challenging the government over the long term,” he added.

All Detroit Three automakers could recoup some of their investment costs from provincial and federal auto industry funding programs. However, Dias said the deal wasn’t dependent on government money.

As for new products, Dias was tight-lipped. He praised FCA’s recent $2.6 billion investment in the Windsor assembly plant and the looming production of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Brampton, which builds the venerable Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger, could go in any direction.

“It’s too early,” said Dias. “The existing product portfolio is good for four to five years.”

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16 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler, Unifor Clear ‘Major Obstacles’ Before 11th Hour Contract Deal...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    “The existing product portfolio is good for four to five years.”

    For someone supposedly tight-lipped about future product, that one line speaks volumes.

    TTAC is Best. TTAC is Bright. You’ll figure it out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      LX is new Panther, you *will* see it through 2025 even if fleet only.

      WK2 will beget WK3.

      CUSW (circa 2010) will become the 21st Century K-platform.

      JK’s replacement might be the only new platform you see for some time.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        Perhaps. It’s a good platform, and with car sales declining the case for investing in a new platform that isn’t global gets weaker. I guess we’ll see in “four to five years” if all these rumors about Giulia loaning North America a platform are true.

        Perhaps. Sales of the WK2 certainly suggests that the market cares not how old the bones are.

        Dart and 200 dying suggest otherwise.

        Nope. You forgot the new light truck

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I suspect the reasoning for the longevity is three fold: 1. the platform is still extendable/capable, 2. Investment issues at FCA and 3. Agnelli desire to offload the operation is still out there.

          Not quite:

          “Vehicles based on Fiat Compact platform[edit]
          Compact (C-Evo):
          2010-Present Alfa Romeo Giulietta
          LWB Compact Wide (CUSW):
          2013-Present Dodge Dart/Fiat Viaggio/Ottimo[8]
          2014-Present Jeep Cherokee
          2015-Present Chrysler 200
          2017-Present Chrysler Pacifica (RU)”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Compact_platform

          There is a light truck actually happening?

          • 0 avatar
            NoID

            The light truck I’m referring to is the next Ram 1500, not exactly a secret by any stretch of the imagination.

            If we’re talking midsize or small truck, I’d love to see them bring the Fiat Fullback here and slap a Ram badge on it. I’d buy or lease one in a heartbeat.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “WK2 will beget WK3.”

          WL

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “New hires will now see pay increases in each year of their 10-year pay grid”

    plus

    “the sector needs the government to participate”

    means the taxpayers get to foot the bill for an increasing distortion of Real Market Conditions, thanks to union strong-arming. Apparently, some jobs are worth keeping more than others.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    Crap deal for Brampton! Unifor’s goals were to secure future product commitment from FCA and investment in a new paint shop. These two things were the primary goals in this contract. Like GM we got a token investment and band aid solution for our paint shop (@ 30% of what was spent in SHAP 4-5 years ago)and no commitment to future product what so ever. (not surprised by that one)

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I think you’re missing the forest here. A major overhaul of the paint shop makes no sense without adding future product. The time to pay off such an investment requires at least one program life cycle.

      The committment to a paint line means FCA has to put something there. The questions are what and when. Not if or where.

      • 0 avatar
        LXbuilder

        Not missing anything, Unifor planned to get the badly needed (like 10yrs ago) paint shop built and the commitment to the next gen car. While I expected neither, this IS what they were selling the membership. They expect us to praise this deal like sheep, some will, many will not. Windsor with a bigger workforce will ensure this contract passes as they already have their investment, many at Brampton will turn it down however, and continue to feel like Windsors ugly stepbrother.

        • 0 avatar
          NoID

          You don’t drop that kind of money on major production capability without intending to use it.

          The paint line overhaul is an implicit committment that the plant has a major future. It may not be an commitment for the nex gen car specifically, but it is a commitment for a future program on top of the existing product. Your union boss seems happy about it, if you don’t trust him then why the hell is he representing you?

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I love my 2014 Challenger V6, thank you for 55,000 trouble free miles.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ LXbuilder….Hey brother,your right . Its certainly not a perfect deal. I spent 36 + years working on the floor in Oshawa, so i know where your coming from. A new, modern paint shop , might make you , breathe a little easier . Oshawa has a “state of the art” environmentally friendly plant shop. We also have newish “flex” assembly plant, with a contagious Stamping Plant.

    All that being said, GM held the “we will close the plant” gun to the memberships head. Believe me, the agreement was certainly not embraced by the membership. St Kitts, folks were not happy at all. Oshawa, similar to the Brampton -Windsor situation , carried the ratification by 76 percent.

    We bought 4 more years. Lets just hope that by 2020 we’re in a better bargaining position.

    In solidarity

    Mike

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