FCA workers at 2 large UAW locals reject contract

Jefferson North, Kokomo votes tilt odds toward overall rejection

Sixty-six percent of production workers at Fiat Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit, which produces the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, voted against the company's national labor accord with the UAW, while 77 percent of skilled-trades workers rejected it.
UPDATED: 9/28/15 1:09 pm ET - adds details

DETROIT -- Workers at two of the biggest union locals representing hourly Fiat Chrysler employees have voted against a tentative contract agreement with the UAW, further dimming prospects for approval.

UAW Local 7, composed of workers at the company's Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit, voted against the four-year deal, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News reported on Sunday. Sixty-six percent of production workers at the plant, which produces the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, voted against the accord, while 77 percent of skilled-trades workers rejected it.

About 4,400 hourly workers are employed at the plant, or more than 10 percent of the 40,000 or so employees represented under the proposed contract. The local could not be reached for comment.

A majority of workers also rejected the deal on Friday at Local 685 in Kokomo, Ind., which represents about 6,000 workers that assemble transmissions, according to the Free Press.

A majority of voting members must approve the accord for it to take effect.

In addition, a 2,000-member UAW local for a stamping plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., rejected the contract on Thursday, according to postings on Facebook, and 80 percent of production workers at a 1,300-member union local for a Trenton, Mich., engine plant rejected the proposed deal, the local's website said.

So far, four chapters -- locals 412, 723, 1284 and 1302 -- were said to have accepted the terms of the deal, while seven -- 7, 372, 685, 1166, 1248, 1264 and 1435 -- rejected it, according to an Automotive News tally of known vote totals drawn from locals’ Web and social media sites and press reports. There are 37 UAW units under the contract. Voting is expected to take place through Wednesday.

Workers at several big assembly plants -- including Warren Truck and Sterling Heights in Michigan, Belvidere in Illinois and Toledo in Ohio -- are set to vote on the deal in coming days.

A representative from the UAW declined to comment.

The UAW and Fiat Chrysler agreed to a tentative contract on Sept. 15, a day after the previous contract expired. Under the proposed contract, the gap between the highest-paid Fiat Chrysler first-tier plant worker and the lowest-paid second-tier would close to $8 per hour from the current $12 per hour.

Workers critical of the deal have complained that the deal fails to eliminate the two-tier system and does not cap second-tier hiring. That’s in addition to criticism that the deal fails to provide entry-level workers a path to full pay, in addition to not outlining where future FCA vehicles will be built.

Fiat Chrysler has the lowest per-hour labor costs among the Detroit 3, because it has the highest share of the lower paid, second-tier workers. About 45 percent of FCA workers are second tier, compared with 28 percent at Ford Co. and 20 percent at General Motors.

Reuters contributed to this report.

You can reach John Irwin at jirwin@autonews.com

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