Plants, Parts and Pay on the Table as Fiat Chrysler Tries to Avert Midnight Strike
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles must make some pricey commitments to head off a midnight strike by its Canadian autoworkers.
Bargaining teams from FCA and Unifor, which represents Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, worked throughout the weekend to nail down a contract deal patterned on the recent General Motors agreement.
Without product commitment for its Brampton assembly plant and Etobicoke casting plant, among other sticking points, workers could walk off the job tonight.
As per tradition, FCA’s product timeline is set in Jello, not stone. Recent product delays have the Unifor team demanding a clearer future for its Windsor assembly plant, which produces the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica, as well as the Brampton plant, which makes FCA’s rear-drive cars.
According to the Windsor Star, workers are “cautiously optimistic” they can avoid strike duty.
“We have a lot of new workers and this is the first time they’ve ever been in this position,” said Frank Mosey, strike coordinator for Unifor Local 444. He added, “If the deal includes jobs and investment, there’s a good chance our members will ratify.”
The 1,200 new workers in Windsor heap costs if the deal is modeled on GM’s agreement, which includes pay increases for new hires (while keeping the 10-year pay grid), an overall pay bump for traditional employees, boosted signing bonuses and lump sum payments.
On the product front, Unifor wants something to fill the void left in Etobicoke by the canceled Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart. The facility manufactures aluminum die castings, pistons, and various engine and transmission parts.
Brampton needs a new paint shop, as well as assurances for its future. The Dodge Challenger and Charger move to a new Alfa Romeo-sourced platform in 2018, while the Chrysler 300’s future remains hazy. FCA’s product pipeline calls for a potential 300 redesign in 2020.
Windsor has less to worry about. A full-size, Pacifica-based Chrysler crossover starts production in 2018, while the Grand Caravan should stay alive until the 2019 model year.
Meanwhile, FCA could stand to gain government cash in return for plant upgrades. A source close to the negotiations told the Star that officials from the automaker met with Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid and Environment Minister Glen Murray last week to discuss “a possible investment.”
Unifor saw its negotiations with GM sweetened by provincial and federal automotive funding programs, which could see the automaker recoup up to 40 percent of the $554 million (CAD) deal.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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