Time may be running out for Fiat Chrysler Automotive and the United Auto Workers to agree on a labor deal and avoid a strike that could affect thousands of Hoosier workers. The automaker employs more than 7,000 workers at transmission operations in Kokomo and Tipton County. Without a deal, the UAW has told Fiat Chrysler that it will terminate its national contract extension agreement at midnight tonight. Members of UAW Local 685 in Kokomo overwhelmingly rejected the automaker’s latest contract offer last month.
UAW Local 685 has about 7,000 members. Its vote took place September 25.
Chrysler marked the opening of its nine-speed automatic transmission plant in Tipton in May 2014, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne attended that dedication. At the time, he said the plant enhances north central Indiana as "the largest transmission installation in the world." The plant employs about 800 and, at full capacity, can ship about 800,000 transmissions per year.
In December, Chrysler announced plans to invest nearly $270 million to boost production at two transmission facilities in Kokomo. At the time, the automaker said demand for fuel-efficient vehicles with 8-speed transmissions led to the need to boost capacity. Kokomo says Chrysler has invested more than $1.5 billion at its transmission plans there since 2009.