Prepare for a whirlwind of news from the United Auto Workers union and the Detroit Big 3. Bargaining and negotiations to ratify a new labor agreement began on Monday with ceremonial handshakes at Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
However, this year is expected to be a choppy ride as both sides work to achieve goals. Automotive News (subscription required) detailed the situation as talks begin, and it’s clear automakers and the union are far apart on many issues. Notably, the union wants to further close the gap for newly hired workers to earn top wages. In 2015, the union succeeded in doing away with two-tier wages for employees, though all three automakers agreed to an eight-year “grow-in” period to keep costs under control.
The UAW wants to shave at least one year off of the time period to help workers earn higher wages. Also potentially up for debate are profit-sharing bonuses. As automakers cry foul about a forthcoming economic downturn, UAW members may seek to share profits a different way. That could mean higher wages and less of a profit-sharing bonus check for members.
While a lot of the pent up anxiety has surrounded GM’s moves to unallocate assembly plants in the U.S., UAW members working for each U.S. automaker have job security concerns. This comes as more electric cars are planned, which notably require fewer moving parts and lack some entire systems found on today’s cars. The union said 35,000 jobs are at stake when it comes to increasing electric vehicle production. It will seek to have UAW members build future battery packs and cells, which are often done outside of the U.S. or at a factory with non-union labor.
Health care, temporary worker usage, and plant investments are all part of the discussions as well.
All of this comes as the UAW showed it’s not afraid to start targeted strikes. The union upped strike pay from $200 to $250 per week to flex its strength. Whether it comes down to strikes remains to be seen. We have two months to see where things fall.
Source: Automotive News