Unifor threatens strike if no deal reached with Fiat Chrysler by midnight

Unifor, the union representing about 9,750 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ facilities in Ontario, says its members will strike at midnight if the two sides cannot reach a new deal similar to one the union negotiated with General Motors.

“Fiat Chrysler has failed to make an offer that meets the economic pattern that we secured with General Motors and it has not made an investment commitment,” Denise Hammond, director for communications for Unifor, told reporters in Toronto.

“While we have made progress, we are not there yet,” she said.

Hammond said union members are prepared to strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday if a deal isn’t reached.

The two sides have meeting scheduled through the remainder of the day, and Hammond said union committees are committed to keep talking.

“Our message however is clear,” she said. “Without the pattern agreement, there will be a strike.”

The union traditionally works out an agreement with one of the Detroit Three automakers and then uses that as a pattern in its negotiations with the remaining two companies. Unifor picked General Motors as its first negotiating target, and the two sides reached a deal that was ratified in late September.

Unifor and Fiat Chrysler have been at the negotiating table throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.

The union has evening media briefings planned ahead of the midnight deadline

In a tweet sent Monday, Unifor national president Jerry Dias reiterated the union’s main demand throughout its contract talks with the Detroit Three — the need for investment in the companies’ Canadian operations.

Fiat Chrysler builds the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans at its Windsor, Ont., assembly plant, which has received nearly $3 billion in recent investments.  The Automotive News says the company has about 70 days supply on hand of the Pacifica minivan, enough to get through a short work stoppage.

The union is looking for the company to invest in its Brampton, Ont., assembly plant, which makes the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, and its Etobicoke, Ont., parts plant.

Unifor’s deal with GM includes a two per cent wage increase this year and another two per cent increase in September, 2019. There is also a $6,000 signing bonus plus lump sum bonuses of $2,000 in each of the next three years to most employees. 

However, the Automotive News has reported that Fiat Chrysler has balked at the economic terms of the deal Unifor reached with GM.

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