While Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne won a major labor vote at the automaker's Miarfiori plant this week, the results show that leftist Italian workers union FIOM has a lot more power than anyone expected.
FIOM was the only union among the five at the Mirafiori factory that rejected the deal, which limits strikes and absenteeism in exchange for investment in Italy. The other four unions – CISL, UILM, FISMIC and UGL – all recommended that their members approved the new labor agreement.
Based on the plant's last elections, those four unions represent 88 percent of the plant vote compared with 12 percent for FIOM.
Despite this seemingly large disadvantage, a massive number of workers at the other four unions ignored their representatives and voted with against the new labor deal.
What should have been a landslide win was a 54 percent to 46 percent victory for the deal. What's more striking is that the margin of victory for the deal among blue-collar workers was just nine votes. Said another way: It was a huge victory for FIOM.
The question now is: How credible are the CISL, UILM, FISMIC and UGL unions if so many of their supporters ignored their recommendation?