For a brief, blissful glimmer of time, it seemed like we might have a period of labor harmony here in the Motor City. The United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the UAW's lead bargaining company, came to a pending agreement that seemed promising enough that union president Dennis Williams, shown above with FCA boss Sergio Marchionne, thought it'd be ratified by the membership. Well, he was wrong.

It's widely expected that FCA's rank-and-file workforce will vote against the deal, which gave workers a raise, would establish a VEBA-style healthcare pool, and deliver a $3,000 bonus for signing the agreement, while retaining the much-hated two-tier wage system. According to The Detroit News, it'd be the first time in over three decades the union's general population didn't follow its leadership's recommendation.

Two of FCA's big US facilities, Toledo Assembly and Sterling Heights Assembly, overwhelmingly voted no, with The News saying they "mathematically sealed the deal's fate." According to The News, UAW Local 1700 President Charles Bell said roughly 90 percent of SHAP's 3,000-plus union workforce voted "no" on the deal.

Should the pending agreement fail as it's expected to, there are three potential avenues for the union. First, as The News details, both sides could return to the bargaining table. Second, FCA workers could hit the picket line. Finally, union leadership may opt to focus its firepower on General Motors or Ford. It's a good thing we aren't the gambling sort, because those all seem very much within the realm of possibility.

Not surprisingly, rank-and-file UAW members have taken issue with the survival of the two-tier wage structure, while others simply think that union employees deserve a wage hike. There was also, we're betting, some serious concerns over the reshuffling of production that would come with a new FCA/UAW deal. As previously reported, no fewer than four UAW facilities would have their vehicle lines shuffled around, including both SHAP and Toledo.

Expect more news as soon as the UAW formally announces the results of its FCA voting.


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