Going first allows Chrysler to set contract pattern

The United Auto Workers’ decision to aim its attention on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to set the template for a new national collective bargaining agreement could be good news for the thousands of Fiat Chrysler employees in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Over the weekend, UAW President Dennis Williams announced FCA would be the lead bargaining company, setting the pattern for deals with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. Though the union has a much stronger position and a better ability to strike in this round of negotiations than it did the last time, most observers don’t expect too many fireworks or overly strong demands.

“I think the dynamics are different than they have been in the past. You have two companies that have emerged from (near) bankruptcy, you have everybody realizing that the world has changed,” said Marick Masters, professor of management at Wayne State University School of Business and director of Labor@Wayne.

In Masters’ view, it matters less about which company is the lead and more about what the UAW’s overall strategy is. However, he did say it’s likely that the company’s plans for the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee, and Toledo Assembly Complex are looming large.

“I think obviously Toledo is a very important part of this overall negotiation for Chrysler. The parties are on edge and it’s very important for people to be patient and let the process work its way through and have faith in the parties to try and strike a good deal,” he said.

The Toledo Blade