UAW-FCA 2019 Contract Talks Opening Ceremony
Remarks from Mark Stewart, FCA North America Chief Operating Officer

Date:  July 15, 2019 , Auburn Hills, Michigan

Thank you, Glenn and good afternoon.

Let me also officially welcome everyone to Auburn Hills.  

Last year, we laid out an ambitious plan for our continued growth over the next five years.  

The plan outlines our investments in products, autonomous driving, advanced technologies and electrification across our powertrains, providing a roadmap on how we will continue to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market.

Critical for us to achieve that plan will be the performance of our U.S. operations.

In February, we announced that we will build the first new assembly plant within Detroit city limits in nearly three decades. I'm really proud that 30 years ago, the last one was JNAP [Jefferson North Assembly Plant]; that's going to be revitalized, as well. That investment will expand the Jeep brand, rooting ourselves and planting our Jeep flag right here in Detroit and in southest Michigan, to support the production of all of our new models, including plug-in hybrids.

At the same time, we announced additional investments at five other Michigan facilities.

Over the past four years, our commitment to the U.S. market and to our workforce has grown by more than $8 billion and 5,000 UAW production jobs.

In that same period, we relocated the Jeep Cherokee, launched an all-new Jeep Wrangler and the new Ram 1500, and introduced a brand new truck to the market, the Jeep Gladiator, that in the first month gained 7 percent market share in the mid truck market.

And as we all know, more is coming. We're moving fast. We've got to continue to make the right strategic decisions together to enable profitable growth so we can continue to invest right here in the U.S.

And I want to be crystal clear. Our operational flexibility, the flexible and competitive cost structures we've created together are needed to continue to fund investments in electrification and the future of our company. 

The women and men who build our great vehicles every day have embraced the principles of World Class Manufacturing and it's really been a game changer for us. It's fostered a culture of safety, flexibility and efficiency.

Every day, our employees demonstrate creativity in finding solutions and rising above challenges that come daily to better themselves, support their colleagues, and provide for their families and their loved ones.

With the 2019 collective bargaining agreement, we must continue to find innovative ways, as we have always done, to prepare us for the next four years and beyond. 

Let me take this point a step further.

Our industry is undergoing a massive transformation, really as profound as when cars came to the market in masses 100 years ago. It's a transformation driven by disruptive technologies and really by society’s realization that we need to protect the environment for the next generation. Together, we're going to be ready for those technologies in fuel efficiency and new electrification strategies when our customers need them.

I often hear many industry leaders talk about these changes; that they're challenges to be overcome or threats to be deflected. But my personal experience, I think our collective experience, has shown that disruption is an opportunity for us. It's an avenue for us to create new value for our customers, grow our customer base, and improve everything for each of us as stakeholders. I want to encourage all of us to continue thinking about the disruption in the automotive business and what we can do together with that.

I'm looking forward to working with the UAW in creating those new opportunities to compete and continue the success we have shared, providing value for all of our stakeholders – including our customers, our employees and the UAW members who come to our plants every day and will continue to come to work in FCA plants for years to come with our new investments. 

But even as we look to the future, it is important to remember how far we have come since bankruptcy in 2009.

We cannot and will not repeat those actions that put us in that dangerous financial position. 

We cannot return to the old ways of doing business — or we risk seeing similar results. We need to learn from the past.

We also need to remember our successes over the past four years that have allowed us to reward employees and make significant investments in the future. A large part of that success resulted from our operational flexibility. Our future, the future of our employees and our families depends on us continuing that pathway of success.

We are committed to negotiating an agreement that will enable continued investment in our future together and create opportunities for our employees, their families and the communities where we all live and work.