UAW gives Chrysler Wednesday deadline, strike possible

As we reported earlier, the UAW is continuing its negotiation talks with Chrysler LLC for a new contract, having chosen the Auburn Hills-based automaker as its next dance partner after reaching a tentative agreement with General Motors on September 26th. The UAW's contract with Chrysler LLC expired on September 14th, but the union extended the deadline for Chrysler (and Ford) while it was focusing on negotiations with General Motors. As we all know, the UAW chose to strike against GM, and it may do the same to Chrysler if a tentative agreement isn't reached by tomorrow Wednesday. Sometime yesterday the union gave Chrysler a required 72-hour notice that the extension would end. While Bloomberg didn't mention at what time Wednesday the extension would expire, we're guessing 11AM EST, which is the same time of day the UAW chose to begin its strike against General Motors on Sept. 24th.

Though the UAW hopes to use its agreement with GM as a template for one with Chrysler, there are additional factors to consider. First and foremost is the fact that Chrysler was not given concessions on retiree health care back in 2005 that were given to both GM and Ford. Even if a VEBA account like the one in the UAW-GM contract is agreed upon, chances are retirees will be forced to accept concessions in their level of coverage to make up for the slight two years ago.

Of course, everyone is curious how well Chrysler's new owner, Cerberus Capital Management, is working with the UAW during these negotiations. Current Co-Vice Chairman of Chrysler, Tom LaSorda, who has seen his title dwindle down from CEO since the purchase, has an opportunity to shine in this talks. Handling negotiations with the UAW is part of his new job description, and considering Chrysler's stumble in the marketplace under his stewardship, now would be a good time for him to prove his worth to Cerberus.

[Source: Bloomberg, The Detroit News]

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