The deal between United Auto Workers and Fiat-Chrysler is likely dead after the tentative agreement was shot down at two major plants. Now union leaders are headed to detroit to decide what's next.
About 40,000 union Fiat Chrysler employees have been working under a contract extension since Sept. 14. The new deal had pay raises but didn't end a lower wage rate for those hired after 2007. Workers also are concerned about shifting car production to Mexico and replacing it with trucks and SUVs.
David Wilczak works at the the Chrysler stamping plant. He says the concern is for the tier two workers.
"Sitting on pins and needles a little bit, but mostly for the two tier workers," Wilczak said.
As predicited, a descrepency in wages was at the heart of contact negotiations and it appears as though a majority of UAW workers didn't feel the tenative agreement got the deal done in time.
"The biig three come out with these big profit numbers and you're sitting there looking at a contract that gradually grows you into a hire income which really isn't as rich as the senior workers are making," Wall Street Journal Global Automotive Editor John Stoll said.
Having two levels of pay for essentially the same work based on senority causes problems in the workplace. Which is why it's a sticking point in the contract.
"There is a lot of dissention. A lot of bad morale because of that," Wilczak said.
Another major hurdle: moving work from assemblty plants in the U.S. down to Mexico.
"They want to make a profit so the smaller vehicles...there's no profit right now."
Just a couple things for workers to consider while putting this tenative deal to a vote.
"It seems pretty broad in the rejection of the deal. A lot of these thing get momentum. Once one plant then another start to vote it down, that becomes the wisdom of the crowd and that's what they vote on. No matter what, there doesn't seem to be a lot tension based over the fact the UAW work force, the rank and file don't like the deal," Stoll said.
That means probably more pins and needles are in Wilczak's future.
"This will be tough. They'll have to sit down with negotiators at Fiat Chrysler who thought they gave you their best deal. Now you have to go back and do you want do that or would you take the more likely course: go to General Motors or Ford, which are not in a giving mood right now. Their labor rates are much higher than Fiat Chrysler is," Stoll said.
Which only making the looming talks of workers walking off the job site only louder at this point.
"A strike is going to be difficult because it's not going to allow the UAW to move forward on getting a new contract," Stoll said. "It's just going to throw gum in the works and that's not what they want to do right now."
"Wwe hope it doesn't come down to a strike. I worked 18 years without a strike so I know how that feels and I hope it does not come down to that," Wilczak said.