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Kansas City Autoworkers Remain On The Job As Contract Negotiations Continue

Negotiations continue between the United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler after both sides agreed Monday to hour-by-hour contract extensions to facilitate bargaining.

Ford and General Motors employees are also operating under extended contracts after the union and automakers missed a Sept. 14 deadline.

But with Fiat Chrysler taking the lead, it’s unlikely to impact production at GM Fairfax even if talks break down, says Vicki Hale, president of UAW Local 31.

“Strike is difficult. It’s always the last resort for national negotiations breakdown,” says Hale, “and we’re not at that point yet.”

Hale says it’s been a tough year for workers at GM Fairfax, which has actually laid off workers for two weeks due to low sales volume. But she’s optimistic work will pick up when production begins on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu in November.

Hale says metro-area autoworkers are optimistic the negotiations will put an end to a two-tier pay system that offers new employees a lower base wage.

“It was necessary back in 2009,” says Hale. “We went through some very dark days” but nobody wants the two-tier system anymore.

Kansas City’s other Big Three automaker is Ford Claycomo, where a message posted Monday to the Facebook page for UAW Local 249 told workers to report to work as scheduled.

In Missouri, the union is also pushing back against so-called “Right to Work” legislation Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that could come back up for a overturn vote during a special session that begins Wednesday.

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