Widespread union strike threatens automotive industry in US

Thousands of US car industry workers have threatened strikes against the car-making giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, demanding fair contracts.

The announcement came on Tuesday, when workers, under the United Auto Workers union (UAW), urged the company to guarantee their job security and eliminate provisions that they deem unfair, or else they will go on a strike on Wednesday night.

UAW officials reached a tentative deal for another four-year period with the car maker on September 15. However, thousands of employees rejected the agreement by a nearly two to one margin.

Despite pay raises and bigger bonus checks, the new contract contains provisions maintaining a two-tier wage system, under which workers hired after 2007 will get paid significantly lower and enjoy fewer benefits than their senior colleagues.

The newer employees, making up for about 45 percent of the workers, earn between $17 to $24 per hour, while veteran autoworkers make an average of $28 an hour.

In a statement, Fiat Chrysler managers said that the pay scheme will be removed eventually, but the company cannot afford to eliminate it at a faster rate. They added that the new contract enables the company to remain competitive.


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