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United Auto Workers finally reach a deal with Fiat Chrysler

UAW Fiat ChryslerUAW Fiat Chrysler
Assembly line workers build a 2015 Chrysler 200 automobile at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Photograph by Paul Sancya — AP

United Auto Workers union members have finally agreed to a new four-year contract with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), the Detroit Free Press reports.

Negotiations began in July and nearly led to a strike when members rejected the first proposed contract three weeks ago. It was voted down by 65% of union members, a rejection that hasn’t been seen in over 30 years. They voted against it because it didn’t ensure sufficient job security, nor did it address a controversial two-tier wage system that pays workers hired after 2007 up to 45% less than those hired before.

When FCA and the UAW couldn’t reach an agreement, the union members threatened to strike. They were able to avoid that option at the last minute by reaching a tentative deal.

This new deal has garnered votes from 77% of union members. It does address the two issues that the previously rejected deal did not: It provides signing bonuses and raises for both entry-level and longtime workers; and it eliminates the two-tier pay structure by promising so-called “second-tier” workers will make $29 per hour within eight years of being hired—their pay will rise to at least $22.50 within their first four years. The Detroit Free Press writes that this makes them “nearly equal” those who were hired pre-2007.

UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement:

The resolve of our membership and the dedication of our negotiating team has produced an agreement that affords UAW members a strong wage package and job security while still allowing the company to competitively produce high quality vehicles for our customers.