Count­down on to save Uni­for jobs

Union says cost-sav­ing pro­posal ‘clear vic­tory’ for FCA em­ploy­ees

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - TAMAR HAR­RIS

Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles has given Uni­for Lo­cal 444 un­til mid-Au­gust to present the com­pany with cost-sav­ings pro­pos­als to pre­serve 285 truck­ing jobs at the Wind­sor Assem­bly Plant that had been slated for out­sourc­ing.

“This is a clear vic­tory, be­cause if we didn’t do this, we would al­ready be po­ten­tially out­sourced by Sept. 24,” Uni­for Lo­cal 444 pres­i­dent Dino Chiodo told re­porters after a mem­ber­ship meet­ing at the Caboto Club on Sun­day.

It buys the union time to come up with a new pro­posal and “fig­ure out how to save the depart­ment long term,” he said.

FCA Canada has threat­ened to out­source the trans­porta­tion of parts used at the Wind­sor plant where the Chrysler Paci­fica, Paci­fica Hy­brid and Dodge Grand Car­a­van mini­vans are built. That would af­fect 285 Uni­for mem­bers, including skilled-trades work­ers, clerks, man­age­ment and driv­ers. The com­pany’s out­sourc­ing plan didn’t af­fect the jobs of those who trans­port the mini­vans.

Union lead­ers told about 300 mem­bers gath­ered at the in­for­ma­tion meet­ing Sun­day that FCA Canada had re­scinded its let­ter is­sued in the spring an­nounc­ing its in­ten­tion to out­source the work.

Re­porters out­side the closed­door meet­ing could hear bursts of ap­plause in­ter­min­gled with frus­trated voices as Uni­for lead­ers ex­plained the next steps.

With the com­pany’s Sept. 24 dead­line loom­ing, Chiodo called the an­nounced out­sourc­ing of the trans­porta­tion depart­ment “a lit­tle bit of a cloud that’s been over our head.”

At 10 p.m. Satur­day, on the eve of the pre­vi­ously an­nounced mem­ber­ship meet­ing, Chiodo said the union re­ceived word from the com­pany that the out­sourc­ing would be sus­pended while cost­sav­ing mea­sures were dis­cussed to “save the depart­ment and hope­fully main­tain the depart­ment long term.

“So we know that’s a vic­tory, we’re ex­cited about that,” he said.

FCA of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment.

The union will form a com­mit­tee com­posed of three peo­ple from the trades and three peo­ple from the trans­porta­tion di­vi­sion, plus sup­port groups from the union and the assem­bly plant, Chiodo said.

The com­mit­tee and FCA will be­gin con­sid­er­ing cost-sav­ing ini­tia­tives as early as Mon­day morn­ing, Chiodo said. The union will pro­pose mea­sures by Aug. 18.

“From there, they can ei­ther agree that we are where we need to be to be com­pet­i­tive and main­tain the depart­ment or they need to reis­sue the let­ter,” Chiodo said.

If the let­ter is reis­sued, the union and com­pany will go to ex­pe­dited ar­bi­tra­tion.

Chiodo said the union would have moved to ar­bi­tra­tion im­me­di­ately if he wasn’t con­fi­dent that cost-sav­ing mea­sures can avoid out­sourc­ing.

“Soft sug­ges­tions” for cost-sav­ing ini­tia­tives have al­ready been pro­vided by FCA, he added.

Some union mem­bers are frus­trated, but Chiodo said he is con­fi­dent that they are in a good po­si­tion go­ing for­ward.

“We’re happy that we’re mov­ing for­ward and we’re do­ing what’s in the best in­ter­est of the depart­ment, the fa­cil­ity and the plant — but some­times it’s not per­fect,” he said.

John Kowal­ski, who works in the FCA trans­porta­tion depart­ment, said Sun­day’s meet­ing was one of the longest he’s at­tended in his 19 years in the in­dus­try.

“Ob­vi­ously there’s some dis­sen­sion among the mem­ber­ship that we have to come up with th­ese cost sav­ings,” he said. “I want to em­pha­size the fact that it is a step

in the right di­rec­tion, but there’s still a cer­tain level of un­cer­tainty with re­spect to our fu­tures in this depart­ment.”

None of the af­fected Uni­for mem­bers left Sun­day’s meet­ing hang­ing their heads, Kowal­ski said.

The con­sen­sus was that the union is do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep the jobs, but do­ing so isn’t easy, he said.

DAX MELMER

Uni­for Lo­cal 444 pres­i­dent Dino Chiodo, cen­tre, said Sun­day the union has been given the green light to come up with a pro­posal to save 285 truck­ing jobs at Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles’ Wind­sor Assem­bly Plant that oth­er­wise would have been out­sourced by Sept. 24.

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