Did Chrysler cave?
Six and a half hours. That’s the length of the United Autoworker’s Union strike against Chrysler, LLC. The rapidity of the settlement surprised many, who had expected that the strike signaled a tough stance by Chrysler’s new owners, Cerberus.
But, apparently it didn’t happen. Initial reports indicated that Cerberus folded within hours after the walkout began, and that the union then settled. According to one UAW insider, at 10:55 a.m. yesterday, Chrysler came in with an “unacceptable” offer and the UAW walked out, as promised, at 11:00 a.m. At 4:00 p.m., Chrysler returned with an acceptable offer, and the union settled.
It is believed that the company’s change of position concerned the preservation of jobs at MoPar and Chrysler Transport. MoPar is the Chrysler parts division and Chrysler transport hauls parts to and between assembly plants. There were confusing reports two months ago that Chrysler management either wanted to sell MoPar Performance Parts and sell Chrysler Transport, though other reports indicated that Chrysler was seeking to close a MoPar distribution center.
The agreement otherwise appears to follow the model set by the GM pact, though the details of the Chrysler agreement are not to be announced until the union’s national Chrysler council is briefed on the contract. However, reports in the Detroit Free Press indicate that the contract funds a VEBA, creates a two-tier wage scale for non-core jobs and provides for certain bonuses.
Certain employees are also to be bought out under the contract. Lastly, jobs at Mopar and Chrysler Transport are preserved.
Until the details are disclosed, however, it is difficult to determine how well, or poorly, Chrysler did in the negotiations. Observers suggested that the strike was an indication that Chrysler had pushed as far as it could, and then stepped back just slightly. However, the UAW leaders have made it clear that “job security” is an essential issue for them. The GM contract provided specific assurances to specific assembly and parts plants. The only component of the Chrysler contract currently being reported that addresses that issue is the agreement on Chrysler Transport and Mopar.
Initial reports were also silent about health care benefits for current workers. Chrysler had not been given the same concessions as the union gave GM and Ford two years ago and Chrysler management clearly intended to achieve those concessions in this contract.
In a related development, the UAW contract with General Motors was formally ratified by the union yesterday.
Source: Detroit Free Press