The United Auto Workers union confirmed that its members defeated a proposed four-year contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that its leaders had recommended, dealing the union a serious blow as it works to negotiate new contracts with the Detroit Three.
The union said 65 percent of Fiat Chrysler workers voted to reject the contract.
UAW president Dennis Williams said he does not consider the rejection of the contract a setback.
“What I love about our organization most of all is that no matter what we do, what action we take, the ultimate decision and the power of the union is our members and they make the final decision,” Williams said in a statement.
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Nevertheless, rejection of a national contract is unprecedented for the UAW in modern times. It’s the first time since 1982 that UAW members have rejected a national agreement.
“We will gather the issues together, notify FCA that further discussions are needed,” Williams said in his statement. “We will be meeting with the UAW-FCA national bargaining committee and council to discuss the issues.”
Fiat Chrysler issued an extensive statement in response, expressing its disappointment with the results.
“The tentative agreement was designed to yield a strong and competitive FCA US, thus providing stability for our workforce and opportunity for future growth and investment in an increasingly complex global marketplace,” the company said. “The company will make decisions, as always, based on achieving our industrial objectives and looks forward to continuing a dialogue with the UAW.”
The UAW had hoped to use the agreement with Fiat Chrysler as a pattern after it was ratified to craft new contracts with Ford and General Motors. Now the UAW must decide whether it wants to return to the bargaining table with Fiat Chrysler to demand a better deal, ask its members to revote on the existing agreement or move on and complete contract talks with Ford or GM.