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UAW Reaches Tentative Deal With Fiat Chrysler

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams (left) and Ford Motor Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. at a ceremony marking the opening of contract negotiations in July. Paul Sancya/AP hide caption

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Paul Sancya/AP

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams (left) and Ford Motor Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. at a ceremony marking the opening of contract negotiations in July.

Paul Sancya/AP

United Auto Workers and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reached a tentative four-year agreement Tuesday night. The deal affects 36,000 Fiat Chrysler workers nationwide and lays the groundwork for upcoming UAW negotiations with General Motors and Ford.

The UAW and the three automakers have been in talks since July.

Sarah Cwiek from Michigan Radio reports:

"UAW President Dennis Williams says union members deserve to see the new deal first. But he and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne hinted at some of its contents. They said it tackles growing health care costs and aims to get rid of the controversial wage structure."

That controversial wage structure is a "two-tier" pay system negotiated in 2007 that paid newer employees significantly less than senior workers. Under that agreement, Fiat Chrysler's recent hires were paid a maximum of $19.28 per hour, compared with $28.69 for veteran employees.

At a press conference Tuesday, the two sides did not get into the specifics of how the two-tier-wage issue was resolved, but Marchionne hinted that it would be gradually phased out. "I think that the team has crafted what I consider to be a very carefully thought-through process whereby that issue will go away. And it will go away over time."

The Detroit Free Press reports on next steps:

"Details of the agreement will be presented to leaders of UAW local unions from FCA's U.S. plants.

"Ratification votes will be held at each plant over the next week to 10 days.

"Then bargaining will resume at the second automaker, which UAW President Dennis Williams is expected to name soon."