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UAW and FCA, GM Open New Contract Discussions

Written By, Brad R

Talks between the largest automotive companies in the world have started taking place at the most recent United Automobile Workers (UAW) meeting. Ceremonial handshakes by UAW President Gary Jones, GM Chairman/CEO Mary Barra, as well as FCA North America Chief Operating Officier Mark Stewart opened the discussions for UAW. An agreement is being reached with the UAW hoping to secure a new four-year deal for the workers. UAW is aiming to gain a more significant cut of the large deals and profits being made by the automotive companies. There are many layers to this story as each side as a goal in mind.

Big Plans Among the Top Automotive Companies

The UAW has seen a lot of transactions in recent months. General Motor (GM) has spent $23 billion in U.S. manufacturing between 2009 and 2019, and FCA has made numerous recent deals. FCA has proposed a new assembly plant at the Mack Engine complex, plans to revamp the Jefferson North plant for SUV production as part of a $4.5 billion investment in metro Detroit. Mark Stewart and Mary Barra openly worked on designing the blueprint for the auto industry's future. The union knows about the record profits that the Detroit Three have made since workers ratified the current contract in 2015. The executives noted the stresses the carmakers are experiencing as they lay the foundation for expanding autonomous and electric vehicles.

"I have made it clear publicly and in many conversations with elected officials, including the president, that we are committed to investing and growing jobs in the United States. Our operational flexibility, the flexibility of our competitive cost structure we created together are needed to continue to fund these investments with electrification and the future of all of our company," Barra said.

Union Goals Going Forward

The union is concentrated on raising wages, assuring products are made as promised. All sides have noted the changing environment of the auto industry, with the increase of electrification and self-driving technology expected to be major disruptors. The automotive industry has experienced quite an exceptional stretch of strong sales and profits, but the expectation of an economic downturn has some wary of what could happen. Over the upcoming weeks, the union will declare a lead company for its bargaining, with discussions coming through Labor Day. The current deal is going to end on September 14, 2019. They hope to make a deal way before then.

“UAW members have been the backbone of General Motors for more than 80 years,” Gary Jones, UAW President. 

FCA Has Done Much For the Workers

Since the last deal was signed in 2015, FCA has added 8,200 new jobs and have planned to build the first new assembly plant in Detriot in more than three decades. Mark Stewart of FCA regarded the major need to maintain operational flexibility in order to stay creating investments. FCA has no secrets about their goals to make more hybrid and electric vehicles ready for the next decade. 

"We want to find innovative ways to prepare for the future. It's really important to think about how far we've come since bankruptcy. We cannot, we will not repeat those actions that put us in those dangerous financial conditions. We cannot return to our old ways of doing business or we're risking the same result," Stewart stated.

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