Historic contract talks are getting underway between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three. The Union says it wants raises for 140,000 blue-collar workers at U.S. plants run by Ford, General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler.
The ceremony began at General Motors Monday. Dennis Williams head of UAW president stood shoulder-to-shoulder with three women for the symbolic handshake to kick off the beginning of negotiations.
For the first time, three women are leading this UAW talk: Mary Barra, GM CEO; Cathy Clegg, Vice President of Labor Relations for GM; and Cindy Estrada from the UAW.
There are two tiers of workers, and the UAW will hope to bridge the gap between them.
In 2011, tier 2 workers got a raise from $15.78/hour to $19.28/hour and got profit sharing. Tier 1 line workers ended up with $28.50 while skilled trade workers ended up with $4 more an hour.
"All the workers are going to get a raise to their base rate," says Autoline's John McElroy. "However, one of the ways that GM, Ford and FCA are able to compete with the transplants right now is because of that entry-level wage, and that's something that the car companies are not going to want to give up."
This is the first time since 2007 UAW has the right to strike if they don't like their deal, but don't expect that to happen.
"Even though the UAW strike is a possibility, I think it's one that the UAW is going to want to use very reluctantly," McElroy says. "If they go on strike, boy, the anti-UAW people are going to use that as ammunition to try to keep them out of all the transplants."
A contract is due by midnight on September 14.