LET’S MAKE A DEAL

Ten­ta­tive con­tract prom­ises to elim­i­nate wage dis­par­i­ties and re­duce ris­ing health costs

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS - DETROIT FREE PRESS

UAW, Fiat Chrysler ad­dress two-tiered wages, health costs in ten­ta­tive agree­ment,

DETROIT— In a ten­ta­tive agree­ment ham­mered out Tues­day night, the UAW union and Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles agreed to work to elim­i­nate the thorny is­sue of a two-tier wage struc­ture over time and to ad­dress the need to re­duce ris­ing health-care costs that could threaten the fu­ture vi­tal­ity of the in­dus­try.

The de­tails of the four-year agree­ment, which af­fects FCA’s 39,000 union­ized em­ploy­ees, must be rat­i­fied by the union mem­ber­ship.

UAW pres­i­dent Dennis Wil­liams said the ten­ta­tive agree­ment sets a pat­tern he feels GM and Ford can match, but sug­gested he will seek more eco­nomic gains from the larger and more prof­itable com­pa­nies. FCA CEO Ser­gio Mar­chionne and Wil­liams con­firmed they had reached the agree­ment dur­ing a quickly called and ju­bi­lant news con­fer­ence in Detroit.

The two men said they would not re­lease de­tails ahead of meet­ings with union lead­er­ship, who will in turn take the terms to their lo­cals.

But in broad strokes, Mar­chionne said the in­equity of pay­ing en­try-lev- el work­ers a lower wage for the same work, a dis­par­ity re­ferred to as twotier wages, is ad­dressed in the agree­ment.

Un­der the new con­tract, Mar­chionne said the au­tomaker’s work­ers will be pro­vided with a path to a higher wage and sug­gested that the two-tier wage struc­ture, put in place in 2007, will even­tu­ally go away.

What Mar­chionne and Wil­liams did not say is how long that will take.

Trey Du­rant, a 20-year em­ployee at a Fiat Chrysler Mopar parts fa­cil­ity near Chicago, said get­ting equal wages for his col­leagues is a top is­sue.

“Work­ing in the same fa­cil­ity, side by side with some­one who has a dif­fer­ent wage than you was a bad idea, even though I know why they had to do it when times were tough,” Du­rant said. “I want my broth­ers and sis­ters to be at full wage also.”

Du­rant won­ders if the so­lu­tion is to fol­low the lead of Cana­dian auto work­ers, who achieve the top wage af­ter 10 years — but he would like to see a shorter grow-in pe­riod.

Also key to the pact is the need to re­duce health-care costs. Wil­liams has made public his vi­sion of a health-care ben­e­fits co-op that pools the ac­tive work­ers at all three com­pa­nies for pur­chas­ing clout in deal­ing with heath-care providers in an ef­fort to se­cure cost sav­ings.

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