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Chrysler and CAW Gridlocked

Chrysler threatens to abandon its northern plants.

by on Mar.27, 2009

TK

Lewenza said the CAW is trying to reach a deal that would trim costs and get government aid.

Chrysler LLC and the Canadian Auto Workers remained locked in a bitter dispute over contract concessions as the deadline for resolution of the issues drew close. The CAW said it was willing to keep negotiating over a new contract with the Canadian subsidiary of Chrysler LLC.

However, CAW president Ken Lewenza said Friday that the around-the-clock talks broke down after the company turned down both the pattern agreement established with General Motors, as well as other cost-savings specific to Chrysler.

Several times during the bargaining Chrysler changed the criteria for reaching a new deal, twice when it was believed a tentative agreement had been within reach, Lewenza said. “Chrysler kept moving the goal posts whenever we got close — if this hadn’t happened, we would be announcing a tentative agreement by now,” said Lewenza.

Tom LaSorda, Chrysler vice chairman, has warned that Chrysler could decide to abandon its Canadian plants unless the CAW agrees to its terms. The negotiations are complicated by the fact that LaSorda collected a multi-million dollar bonus from Daimler for closing the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus LLC, and  has now received millions of dollars in retention bonuses at a time when union members are being asked to accept drastic concessions.

“We are committed to reaching a new agreement before the March 31 deadline so that Chrysler and the Canadian facilities will qualify for government support,” said Lewenza.

Chrysler has asked for $800 million to keep the Canadian plants open. (more…)