Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on GM lawsuit against FCA

The General Motors lawsuit accusing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and its predecessor entities of corrupting labor negotiations as far back as 2009 is a bombshell, but several labor experts say its impact on current bargaining between the UAW and FCA could be limited. That's not to say the allegations in the 95-page complaint filed Wednesday in federal court, naming FCA, Alphons Iacobelli, its onetime lead labor negotiator and a convicted felon, among others, won't make the task of ratification harder. But it's not clear the issues raised, many already suggested by the ongoing federal corruption probe, will be a deciding factor. Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, said that if nothing else, the lawsuit puts an even bigger spotlight on negotiations. "I think they have to be extraordinarily careful that what they're doing is being watched microscopically by many parties," he said. "I think they will be extremely careful to avoid the appearance of any background deal (and be) as transparent as possible." Any impact on talks or how workers view a deal is not fully clear, but  deviation from the pattern could generate skepticism. The pattern deal, which includes gains for temporary and in-progression workers, would be costly for FCA because of its heavier reliance on them. "If the agreement between Chrysler and the UAW were to deviate in any way (from the pattern at GM and Ford) to the disadvantage of workers, people would say, 'We told you so, you'd better look in to this,'" Masters said.

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