fisker karma coupe at naias 01
Pattern bargaining for Fisker?
Which raises the question: Will Fisker get to negotiate its own contract for the 1,500 workers it expects to hire, or will union officials demands that the new green-car startup abide by "pattern bargaining," the practice under which GM, Ford, and Chrysler all sign identical contracts with UAW workers?
With GM and Chrysler having gone through bankruptcy, their surviving workers have had their benefits slashed, work rules streamlined, and wages for new hires cut to approximately $12 an hour. Those contracts were a non-negotiable condition of U.S. government funding.
Balking by Ford workers
But at Ford, which did not file for bankruptcy or take government funding, workers from six of eight locals have turned down similar concessions aimed at keeping Ford's costs as low as its taxpayer-financed competitors. Voting continues, plant by plant, this week.
Their reasoning: While hardly out of the woods, Ford is doing better, so they have sacrificed enough. Observers say the real sticking point is limits on their right to strike, identical to those in place at GM and Chrysler, if a national contract is not reached in 2011.
Shackled before it starts?
So the real question becomes whether Fisker can work with the UAW to craft a contract that will take it to profitability and suit the different manufacturing needs of a startup company that is building vehicles with very different powertrains ... or whether it is beset by contentious labor relations with a workforce with a sense of entitlement.
Also important: Will Fisker competitor Tesla Motors agree to UAW representation for its new California manufacturing plant, which it plans to use to build its 2012 Model S electric sports sedan? Somehow we suspect not.