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Fiat Chrysler, Union Avert Canada Strike With Tentative Deal
Work stoppage threatened to ripple across the auto maker’s North American operations

Oct. 15, 2020


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and the union representing about 9,000 workers at its three Canadian factories reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday night, averting a strike that threatened to ripple across the auto maker’s North American operations.


Unifor, the Canadian union, said it would share details about the deal at a media briefing Thursday morning in Toronto. Representatives for Fiat Chrysler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


Before the Wednesday night deadline, Unifor had warned members to prepare for a strike, saying talks had bogged down on issues related to wages, health-care benefits and investment commitments at the Canadian factories.

A work stoppage would halt assembly of the company’s Pacifica and Voyager minivans, Dodge Charger and Challenger muscle cars, and a Chrysler sedan. It would also stop production of aluminum die castings for several Fiat Chrysler models, including highly profitable Jeep SUVs and Ram pickup trucks built outside of Canada.

The auto maker is pushing to improve its financial performance ahead of a planned merger with France’s PSA Group. The Italian-American auto maker needs to preserve cash to pay a dividend of $3.44 billion (reported as €2.9 billion) to its shareholders ahead of the closing of the deal early next year. That dividend was reduced last month in a cost-cutting move.


Fiat Chrysler’s cash reserves have already been dented by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic; the company stopped production at its factories in Europe and North America in the spring to curb the spread of the virus. The North American business has long contributed most of the auto maker’s earnings, and another work stoppage in the region would add to pressures on Fiat Chrysler’s bottom line.


Unifor reached a new labor deal with Ford Motor Co. last month, securing a nearly $1.5 billion investment in two plants and a commitment to build electric cars at a plant near Toronto. As is typical in pattern bargaining, Unifor used that agreement as a template for its talks with Fiat Chrysler.


Last year, Fiat Chrysler negotiated a new contract in the U.S. with the United Auto Workers that included wage increases and improved health-care benefits.

 

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FCA to Invest up to $1.5 Billion to Build EVs in Windsor

2020-10-16

The Canadian auto industry received some needed good news yesterday when it learned that the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Group will invest between $1.35 and $1.5 billion in its Windsor, Ontario assembly plant to build electric vehicles.

The news came as part of an interim agreement with Canadian auto workers (Unifor), announced by the union’s national president Jerry Dias on Thursday.

The auto union said FCA will invest in the development of an advanced vehicle platform that will allow for the assembly of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, and that at least one new model will be available by 2025.

The agreement comes less than a month after Unifor said Ford committed to investing $1.46 billion in its Oakville and Windsor plants.

Said Jerry Dias, “Not only is Fiat-Chrysler maintaining the current portfolio but they will be investing three derivatives to enhance the current portfolio.”

The Unifor boss added that the union expects FCA to extend the life of the Chrysler 300, as well as introduce a number of Dodge Charger and Challenger variants.

The union says up to 2,000 jobs will be added to the Windsor plant by 2024.

On Thursday, Market forecasting firm LMC Automotive predicted that, in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, U.S. vehicle sales won’t recover to the levels of 2019 (when they amounted to 17 million units sold) until 2024.

Meetings to ratify the agreement between the union and the FCA group will be held over the weekend and members will vote on accepting or rejecting it on Sunday.

Unifor is then expected to begin negotiations with General Motors' Canadian division next week.





 
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