The company needs cash, and plenty of it, to help fund aggressive product plans for its many brands, including Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. It has also been slow to develop the electrified powertrains that will be needed to meet future emissions and mileage rules.
To raise an estimated $1 billion, FCA is set to launch an initial public offering of its ultra-exclusive Ferrari brand.
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Both sides could lose out if there isn't a settlement. Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, estimates a companywide strike could cost FCA roughly $1 billion in revenues weekly.
UAW workers will take a big risk, as well. They won't receive strike pay — a modest $200 a week — unless and until they're off the job a second week.
Williams and his team recognize that at a time when Americans are less enthralled with unions than in decades, a noisy confrontation — especially one that cripples a major U.S. manufacturer — won't earn much support.
Meanwhile, a strike could make it all the more difficult to convince workers at the numerous non-union plants that dot the South that organizing would improve their lives.