DETROIT -- UAW President Dennis Williams said product and job commitments under the union's tentative labor contract with Fiat Chrysler are still being finalized and the union wouldn't know the number of net new jobs created until then.
Despite a lack of specific details on product commitments, Williams said wage and other economic improvements in the deal should result in ratification by FCA's 37,000 hourly employees.
Williams and Norwood Jewell, the UAW's vice president for the Fiat Chrysler Department, spoke late Friday after the UAW FCA national council of local union leaders approved plans to take the tentative agreement to rank-and-file workers for a ratification vote.
After informational meetings at the local level early next week, voting is expected to start later next week and conclude by Sept. 27 or Sept. 28, Williams said.
The agreement includes raises for long-time workers, a plan to boost pay for entry-level workers to close a disparity with veteran workers, signing and other bonuses, as well as plans to create a health care co-op that would combine the purchasing power of Detroit 3 hourly workers to control costs.
Light trucks are hot sellers right now and Williams said the union is happy to be keeping and expanding production of SUVs and pickups at U.S. plants.
However, he said gasoline prices can always go back up so FCA and the union need to promote flexible U.S. factories that can accommodate either truck or car production.
"You build more flexible plants where you can move product in and out as the economy changes," Williams said.
The UAW's tentative agreement with FCA would move U.S. car production to Mexico and concentrate SUV and crossover production in the U.S..
According to sources, production of the Ram 1500 pickup would move from a longtime truck plant in Warren, Mich., to a factory in nearby Sterling Heights, Mich., during the life of the proposed four-year contract. As a result of that move, the Chrysler 200 sedan would move from Sterling Heights Assembly to FCA’s assembly plant in Toluca, Mexico.
In addition, the Jeep Cherokee, the brand’s top-selling vehicle in the U.S. through August, would move from Toledo Assembly Complex to Belvidere Assembly in Illinois. The Belvidere plant will lose production of the Dodge Dart, which will also move to Toluca.
The half of Toledo Assembly that builds unibody vehicles will be converted to body-on-frame production to build the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, due in 2017.
The existing Wrangler plant will be retooled to build a Wrangler-based pickup.
Warren Truck in Michigan would be retooled and converted from body-on-frame construction to unibody construction to eventually build the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a three-row luxury SUV that seats eight.
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said earlier this summer that the Grand Wagoneer would share a platform with the next-generation Grand Cherokee.
If that is the case, then Warren Truck could potentially also build two-row Grand Cherokees, if additional production is needed beyond the capacity of the Grand Cherokee’s home plant, Jefferson North Assembly in Detroit.