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As a government imposed June 1st bankruptcy deadline looms on the horizon, the UAW is reporting that it has reached a tentative agreement with General Motors and the U.S. Treasury.
The specifics of the agreement will not be made public until the contract is ratified, however, the UAW did say that changes have been made to the employees retiree health trust, referred to as the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association. It is not clear if the UAW has worked out a deal similar to the one with Chrysler that would see the union take control of a portion of the company.
Negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), GM and the Canadian Federal and Ontario Provincial governments have yet to result in an agreement.
As with Chrysler, a ratified contract would not necessarily mean that GM would avoid filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
[Source: Automotive News]
Starting Monday, Chrysler will idle most of its plants as the company restructures under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. This will include 8 U.S. assembly plants, as well as facilities in Canada and Mexico. Other pre-assembly facilities will also face temporary closure including five North American engine plants, six stamping plants and seven transmission plants.
The temporary shut-down will effect 26,000 UAW workers and 10,000 Canadian Auto Workers.
Chrysler is using the bankruptcy proceedings to its advantage, as the production stoppage will allow it to deplete the ever-increasing stockpile of vehicles.
The temporary shut-down is expected to take from 30 to 60 days, however, there is potential for it to extend beyond that.
[Source: Automotive News]
UAW oWn3S Chrysler... literally
Less than a day after the UAW, Chrysler and Fiat agreed upon the terms of a contract that would keep the struggling U.S. automaker afloat, details of the agreement have surfaced in which the union will take a controlling share in Chrysler.
At first it seemed almost too good to be true that all sides had reached an agreement without the need for decreased wages. Instead the agreement stipulated that Chrysler would significantly reduce its participation in the employee retirement program.
The agreement came just days after a similar agreement had been reach between Chrysler Canada and the Canadian Auto Workers union – an agreement that was ratified the same day Chrysler and the UAW put together the current proposal.
Now word has leaked that in exchange for Chrysler’s reduced payments to the company’s retirement plan, the company had to essentially hand itself over to the union. In total, the UAW will get a 55 percent stake in the planed Chrysler-Fiat partnership, with Fiat initially taking a 20 percent share, with up to 35 percent ownership possible if certain conditions are met.
The agreement now has to go before Chrysler’s 26,000 workers, with voting on Wednesday in order to ratify the agreement ahead of the government’s end-of-month bankruptcy deadline. If the deal is reached and Fiat signs on, the Federal Treasury will provide Chrysler (or should we say the UAW) with $6 billion to keep the automaker afloat.
Meanwhile, one other major player (which has been incredibly quiet during this ordeal) has agreed to remove itself from the situation. Daimler will shed its 20 percent stake in Chrysler and rethink ever working with a U.S. automaker again.
[Source: Automotive News]
CAW President Ken Lewenza calls Nardelli/LaSorda letter "offensive"
The Canadian Auto Workers union, after burning the letter written by Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and joint-president Tom Lasorda, has now responded with its own statement.
CAW president Ken Lewenza denies that a $19 labor gap exists between Canadian and U.S. workers and refuses to re-negotiate a contract that has already been re-neogotiated.
Lewenza calls the $76 per hour wage “inflated and artificial” and says that it, “includes many non-relevant factors, such as expenses associated with retirees who have not worked at Chrysler for years, and payroll taxes which are paid to government not to workers.” He continues: “Perhaps most galling of all, Chrysler’s number even includes the proportional cost of downtime and lay-offs. In essence, we are being ‘charged’ for our own unemployment. The best way to reduce that artificial $76 number is to put Chrysler workers back to work: that alone would reduce hourly costs by several dollars per hour.”
Regardless of how you view the statistics, Lewenza makes two other strong points. First, he says that Toyota and Honda (both of which are non-unionized) have made it well-known that they match wages and other benefits with unionized automakers. In other words, the wage that Chrysler employees are making is fair because it’s what the other companies are paying their staff. Second, Lewenza says that the bond holders haven’t had to make any concessions at all.
Unfortunately for Lewenza and the CAW, it doesn’t matter what they say and it seems that if the $19 gap isn’t closed then Fiat won’t partner with Chrysler, the federal governments in both Canada and the United States won’t keep the cash flowing. As a result Chrysler will be forced into bankruptcy, something Lewenza calls, “an increasingly likely prospect.”
Read the full letter after the jump:
Fiat is about ready to walk away from a potential partnership with Chrysler says CEO Sergio Marchionne unless the U.S. automaker can significantly cut labor costs. While the United Auto Workers union has made it known that it is willing to work with Fiat and Chrysler management, the Canadian Auto Workers union isn’t.
“From what I can tell from a distance, the CAW may have taken more rigid positions,” said Marchionne in an interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.
Currently Chrysler and the CAW do not see eye-to-eye. The automaker has asked the union to cut labor costs by $19 CDN to $55 to match hourly wages in U.S. plants but the CAW will only go as far as reducing hourly wages by $7.25 (an amount GM workers agreed to recently).
Marchionne did not mince words in his interview with the Globe saying that a sense of entitlement in an organization that is technically bankrupt was nonsense and that the involvement of the U.S. and Canadian governments in a bailout plan was a sign of last resort for Chrysler.
Marchionne said that there is currently only a 50 percent chance the deal could go through. Meanwhile Moody’s Corporate Finance recently said that Chrysler has a greater than 70 percent chance of going into bankruptcy.
Meanwhile the Obama administration’s April 30th deadline is fast approaching.
[Source: Globe and Mail]