UAW, Fiat Chrysler avoid strike

DETROIT (AP) – Fiat Chrysler has avoided an expensive strike at its U.S. plants after reaching a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers union.

The union announced the agreement just after 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, which was the deadline the union had set to reach a new deal or possibly go on strike.

Details of the agreement weren’t immediately released. Local union leaders will vote on the tentative agreement this Friday at a meeting in Detroit.

This is the second agreement FCA and the union have reached. Last week, UAW members overwhelmingly rejected a previous tentative agreement, saying it didn’t go far enough in restoring benefits workers lost in previous contracts.

Members want an end to the current two-tier pay structure, more specific guarantees of new vehicles for U.S. factories and a return of cost-of-living pay raises that the union gave up to help the company in bad times. Now that Fiat Chrysler is profitable, members want a bigger slice.

The UAW represents around 40,000 FCA factory workers at 23 U.S. plants.

When they kicked off contract talks in July, both UAW President Dennis Williams and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said they would consider it a personal failure if they can’t reach an agreement and workers strike.

The union’s four-year contracts with FCA, Ford and GM expired on Sept. 14, but workers have remained on the job under a contract extension.