It's been 17 hours since the deadline for the UAW and target company Fiat-Chyrsler. Both sides agreed to extend their current contract on an hour-by-hour basis but remain deep in negotiations with the key sticking point being pay raises.
Hour by hour, auto workers are waiting as contract talks between Fiat-Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union continue after the contract officially expired at 11:59 Monday night. One worker, out of the FCA facility in Warren says at 12:01 Tuesday morning everybody walked off. Once that happen, the woker said they were being yelled at to get back to work.
"Nobody basically tells us nothing, so every day we're coming in trying to find out what's going on and no ones saying nothing," the worker said.
The UAW chose Fiat-Chrysler to lead negotiations on a new, 4-year agreement, which could set the pattern for tens of thousands of workers at GM and Ford. Automotive insider John McElroy says it's a reasonable choice as the UAW has far more leverage over FCA.
"All you have to do is shut down the Warren truck plant or one of the Jeep plants and you can inflict instant pain," McElroy said.
The top issues on the table include raises, health care, and closing the gap on the two-tier pay system. First tier employees make nearly $27 an hour and 2nd tier workers earn just over $19 per hour. FCA has far more tier two laborers (roughly 45%) compared to 20% at GM and Ford.
Some workers although working side-by-side feel the divide.
"Then, it was like we are a huge family. now, it's like separated," the worker sai.d
UAW president Dennis Williams and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne are working together to avoid a strike in this hour-by-hour extension.
"The hour-by-hour, I haven't seen very much. It has to do with things being very close to the end, but all these negotiations are in secret, so we really have no idea for sure," McElroy said.
Although workers remain in the dark, auto experts aren't seeing signs of a strike anytime soon.
"You might see a ceremonial shut down three-hour shut down but nothing that will really cut into production here," Wall Street Journal Auto Reporter Jeff Bennett said.
UAW and FCA officials have declined comment during the negotiations. Right now, roughly 141,000 employees will continue to work under the current contract until an agreement is reached.