DaimlerChrysler is considering building a plant in Georgia to make the vans.
“I told the corporation that if the Sprinter has got the Dodge label on it, that truck will be built by UAW members,” UAW Vice President Nate Gooden, director of the union’s DaimlerChrysler department, told Reuters.
According to Reuters, Gooden said that all Dodge cars and trucks sold in the United States have been made by union members, and the Sprinter would be no different. “It’s got a Dodge tag on it, it’s going to be a UAW plant no matter where it’s built,” he said.
Reuters said that Gooden’s comments signalled that the status of the plant will be a part of the upcoming negotiations towards a new UAW contract. The current four-year contract with the powerful union expires in September.
Reuters noted that DaimlerChrysler currently sells the Sprinter under the Freightliner brand in the United States and that Freightliner’s non-union US plants have been a source of contention between DaimlerChrysler and the union.
“It will be a unionised plant. It will be part of the talks,” Gooden told Reuters, adding: “Same with the new engine plant,” referring to a new joint venture engine plant that Chrysler plans to build with Mitsubishi and Hyundai in the United States.
John Franciosi, senior vice president in charge of labour relations with Chrysler, told Reuters it was too soon to speculate on the negotiations.
“Obviously we’ve got some competitive disadvantages that we’re going to try to address,” he told Reuters, referring to gaps in wages and benefits compared to Asian and European car makers. “Obviously some of those issues are going to be difficult issues.”