DETROIT — Aric Holloway feels like he’s seen it all.
The longtime worker at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Warren Truck Assembly Plant was around for Chrysler’s ill-fated “merger of equals” with Daimler. Then there was the brief ownership by Cerberus Capital Management and the bankruptcy that resulted in the Fiat tie-up.
Now he and other UAW-represented workers at FCA have another blockbuster development to think about as they await a labor contract to set their pay and benefits for the next four years: a merger agreement with PSA Group of France.
Despite the relative success of the Fiat merger, Holloway is skeptical. Memories of the Daimler experience are tough to shake.
“You’re getting the sweat off my back” as part of the deal, said Holloway, 62, whose son works for another FCA plant. “I only got four more years now, but my son is fresh. He gotta do his 30.”
A younger worker at a different plant says he understands the concerns of the older generation. He also wonders how the profit-sharing arrangement with UAW members, for instance, could be affected down the line.
“They changed names and changed hands so many times,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified. “You can’t blame the workers who went through all of the different mergers for being a little apprehensive.”
Art Wheaton, a labor expert at Cornell University, says the merger could have a “huge impact” on the 2023 negotiations. FCA won’t have enough time to finalize the merger before the 2019 contract comes together, so Wheaton isn’t expecting any language about the tie-up to make it into this agreement.
“This initial contract, it won’t have a huge impact other than making the membership nervous,” Wheaton told Automotive News. “But the next contract, when they’re actually doing more of the consolidating of plants or trying to finalize where they’re going to build what [and] how they’re going to build it, it’ll take them a couple years to get all those plans outlined.”
Negotiations with FCA were ongoing in the background while the UAW focused on getting deals with General Motors and then Ford Motor Co. Cindy Estrada, the union’s vice president in charge of its FCA department, said in a letter to workers Tuesday, Nov. 12, that the union was continuing to meet with FCA about the outstanding issues.
“We are making progress and if UAW-Ford ratifies, Acting UAW President Rory Gamble and the President’s office staff will join us next week and work to finalize the UAW FCA bargaining,” Estrada said in the letter. “While we intend to press forward to reach an agreement it is impossible to forecast how long this will take.”