UAW locals compact Fiat Chrysler voting to two days

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2015 4:07 PM

By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - All 40,000 union members at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. will vote on a proposed new contract on Oct. 20 and 21, rather than stretch the balloting over more than a week as was done in the recent failed vote, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union said on Monday.

UAW President Dennis Williams indicated on Friday, when the union sent the tentative four-year contact to rank-and-file voting, that he wanted to give members more time to digest the new deal before voting.

On Oct. 1, Fiat Chrysler UAW members rejected by a nearly 2-to-1 margin a four-year agreement reached by company and union negotiators in mid-September.

Kristin Dziczek, labor analyst with the Center for Automotive Research, said the move to condense the voting period is smart.

"All of the locals get the same amount of time to dig into the agreement," Dziczek said after the UAW confirmed on Facebook that voting will take place over two days next week. "They get to see what's changed, and ask questions."

Allowing more time before holding a vote and compacting the days to vote may be how the UAW handles future votes, but only time will tell, she said.

In past votes, local union halls voting early influenced those voting as much as a week later, Dziczek said.

The new deal calls for an eight-year path from hiring to top UAW pay, which will be about $30 per hour at the end of the proposed four-year contact in 2019. Before 2007, it generally took three years for a unionized worker at a major U.S. auto manufacturer to go from first day on the job to top pay.

The new contract would end a two-tier pay system but will retain a sizeable gap between recent hires and more experienced veteran workers.Prior to one year of experience, a new hire will make $17 an hour, and progress to top pay over eight years, getting raises that start at $1 an hour annually and go to $2 an hour annually near the top of the pay scale.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by David Gregorio)