“On the back of a strong sales industry we were able to achieve our best September sales in 15 years and our 66th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth”, said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. “That is the design of our constitution and who we are…” It would be the first time a major UAW contract has been rejected by workers in 30 years.
At the company’s engine plant in Trenton, Michigan, south of Detroit, 80 percent of production workers voted against the deal last week.
The automaker, formed out of Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy, said in a statement that “the cyclical nature of the automotive business demands that while we must recognize the need for rewarding employees during times of prosperity, we must also protect against the inevitable market downturn. This agreement accomplished both of these objectives”.
The automaker says it will work closely with the NHTSA to resolve the matter.
Union member’s biggest objection to the deal that was rejected appears to be the fact that it maintained the two-tier wage system, which gives Fiat Chrysler US factory workers who were hired after 2007 significantly lower pay and benefits than senior workers.
Voting is hard to track because plant-level union officials usually release only percentages of votes for and against the contract. “FCA United States promptly notified NHTSA of these issues, and committed to a thorough investigation, to be followed by complete remediation”.
But automakers including General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Nissan all reported double-digit gains.
Ford said in a statement early Saturday, “Working with our UAW partners, we have resolved the open items at Kansas City Assembly Plant and have agreed to a tentative local agreement”. China is still the No. 1 market globally, but sales there were up just 2.6 per cent in the first eight months of the year.
Labor Day deals, continued low interest rates and gas prices drove up the selling rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, to 18.2 million vehicles, according to Autodata Corp.
“It’s kind of unheard-of that a company goes this long without announcing anything about next steps”, she said, compared with how typical recalls unfold. This will continue “next year and the year after and then we have a dip starting in 2018, but more meaningfully in 2019”.
Many union members have been agitating for a strike, nearly since negotiations began.
Norwood Jewell, the top UAW negotiator in the talks with FCA, had described the tentative agreement as the best contract the union had negotiated since 1999.
Strikes typically are a last resort, but can be used tactically to satisfy expectations that union leaders put pressure on automakers. Sales of its redesigned Tucson SUV more than doubled. The union could call a national strike or target one plant that, if prolonged, would cause a ripple effect on production and cripple operations across a company.
General Motors workers in Missouri are following suit by also threatening a walkout this weekend.