Chrysler deal seen within days: CAW president

Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:37pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers said on Monday it was working to resolve Chrysler's concerns that contracts the union reached with the other two Detroit automakers were too expensive, but it could still take four to five days to reach a deal.

Fiat SpA's FIA.MI Chrysler Group LLC, which resumed formal talks on Monday after low-level discussions over the weekend, is the only Detroit Three automaker without a labor agreement in Canada. The CAW negotiated four-year deals with Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) and General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) last week.

"They know that nobody's next," CAW President Ken Lewenza said in an interview with Reuters. "I'd be really disappointed if we didn't get this done in four or five days max."

Chrysler has yet to present the union with a formal economic proposal, Lewenza said, and won't do that until various sub-committees have resolved more issues that affect costs.

The gap on sub-committee issues is not significant, but the two sides remain far apart in overall talks, he said. "On a scale of one to 10, we're at about a six," Lewenza said.

In a leaflet distributed to workers on Monday morning, the union said the Ford ratification and GM's tentative agreement put it in "a much stronger position" with Chrysler.

On Sunday, 82 percent of Ford's unionized workers ratified that company's deal and GM employees will vote Wednesday and Thursday on the GM pact.

"We continue to meet with and talk to the CAW with the hopes of reaching an agreement," said Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson.   Continued...

A Chrysler badge is pictured on a new car at a dealership in Vienna, Virginia April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque