Fiat Chrysler Automobiles workers represented by the Canadian union Unifor on Sunday ratified a new four-year labor contract with the automaker, which pledged more than $251 million (C$330 million) in investments.
About 70 percent of workers voted to ratify the contract, Unifor said in a news release. The union said 69 percent of production workers and 74 percent of skilled-trades workers voted in favor of the deal.
“Negotiations with FCA were tough, but I am proud that our union stood united and focused to push for the pattern agreement that our union originally achieved with GM,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said. “This agreement helps to shift the landscape in the auto industry and it provides a solid economic increase for all our members and their families.”
In a statement, the automaker said: “FCA Canada is pleased that Unifor members have voted to ratify a new four-year national labour agreement, covering 9,450 employees. This agreement represents an investment in our Canadian workforce. With the bargaining process now complete, the Company and our employees look forward to continuing to build world class products and achieving the targets set out in our five-year business plan. Further details about our investment plans will be announced at the appropriate time.”
Unifor will begin negotiating with Ford Motor Co. on Monday, with a tentative strike deadline set for Oct. 31.
The contract includes wage increases for veteran workers and new hires, in addition to investments in two of FCA’s three Canadian plants. Most notably, it includes a $325 million Canadian investment in the Brampton, Ontario, assembly plant’s aging paint shop.
The paint shop at the Brampton plant will be shut down in the summer of 2017 to begin renovations. Dias said the investment commitment is not dependent on government support.
The pact also includes C$6.5 million in upgrades to FCA’s Etobicoke casting plant in Toronto. The discontinuation of the Dodge Dart compact car and Chrysler 200 midsize sedan will lead to the elimination of 150-200 jobs at the plant, though Dias said those workers will be offered jobs at Brampton as part of the deal.
Under the deal, FCA remains committed to building the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid at its Windsor, Ontario, plant. FCA showed the plug-in hybrid at the Detroit auto show in January, and it is scheduled to go into production next month at the Windsor factory.
Chiodo, who is also president of Unifor Local 444 in Windsor, said the commitment is significant because the union “had nothing on paper” that the Pacifica plug-in would be “fully launched” and marketed.
Matches GM pattern
The FCA deal is patterned off last month’s General Motors contract, so it also includes a $6,000 signing bonus for workers, two two-percent raises and three $2,000 lump sum payments over the life of the contract for veteran workers and pay increases each year for new hires placed on a 10-year grow-in wage grid.
In exchange, new hires will be placed on a defined-contribution pension plan, seen as less costly and less risky for the employer. Like the GM plan, workers will contribute 4 percent of their earnings annually to the plan, which the automaker will match.