The UAW on Wednesday jumped on rumors that it had reopened talks with Chrysler. According to a piece in The Detroit News, UAW spokesman Roger Kerson said there was no meeting over one of the biggest sticking points, health care, as was rumored elsewhere. Although the UAW has reached health care agreements with GM and Ford this year, they broke off talks with Chrysler over this issue in September, likely because Chrysler wasn't in as dire of straights as Ford and GM. Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said they are still communicating with the UAW on this issue but stated "we're not in negotiations."
Just prior to halting talks, Chrysler was set to announce a $600 million third quarter loss. Chrysler has since refigured the loss at $1.5 billion. The automaker has about 50,000 active UAW employees and spends about $2.3 billion on health care for them and another 100,000 hourly retirees. That cost rose about 10% from last year's $2.1 billion. Although Chrysler claims it could save about $340 million a year by renegotiating along the same lines as GM and Ford did, the issue is still officially off the table.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who also sits on DaimlerChrysler's supervisory board, upheld his decision in an interview with The Detroit News this week. "People say, 'Well, Chrysler has projected a loss,' " Gettelfinger said. "But this is one quarter, and we're going to work our way through the situation there no different than we did at Ford and General Motors." Even after 12 straight profitable quarters, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche has criticized the union for its hard-line stance on this issue. "It's a very strange position that we should lose $10 billion before we can have the same as Ford and GM," he said.
[Source: The Detroit News]