For the second time in just over three weeks, the UAW and Fiat Chrysler reached a tentative agreement on October 7, 2015, narrowly avoiding a strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. unilaterally imposed by the UAW. This time, however, there was no joint press conference with UAW President Dennis Williams and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne filled with smiles and congratulations. Instead, a simple announcement by the UAW on its Facebook page as well as a press release from Fiat Chrysler informed the public that a new tentative agreement had been reached.
One of the main concerns from the membership about the first tentative agreement was the apparent continuation of the two-tier wage structure. The UAW membership was clearly hoping for more cash (which is just as good as money). The new tentative agreement provides the ability for entry level employees to reach the Tier 1 wage rates within eight years. The membership was also concerned about a lack of details regarding potential changes to health care benefits — because when you don’t have it, that’s when you need it. The new tentative agreement maintains no cost share for members toward health care premiums.
Only time will tell if the “significant gains” made by the UAW bargaining team are acceptable to enough of the UAW membership to ratify the tentative agreement. The UAW leadership has already had one chance to achieve ratification. We will see if they have learned from their prior mistakes. One thing is for sure, we won’t know if the negotiations with Fiat Chrysler are over, until they’re over.