Chrysler says CAW deal is too pricey: union leader

Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:45pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

(Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC and the Canadian Auto Workers had constructive talks on a new contract on Friday, the head of the union said, but remained apart with the automaker complaining the union's template deal was too expensive,

Fiat SpA's Chrysler is the only Detroit Three automaker without a labor contract in Canada after the union reached a four-year tentative deal with General Motors Co. overnight following Monday's agreement with Ford Motor Co.

The Ford deal set the union's bargaining pattern with the other two companies, and Ford workers will vote on it this weekend.

"Today we have had constructive discussions with Chrysler... We are obviously apart in terms of their initial position relative to the pattern," CAW National President Ken Lewenza said.

Pattern bargaining is a CAW tradition under which the first deal reached in negotiations with the automakers becomes the template for deals with the other two. It is meant to ensure that no company has a labor cost advantage over the others.

"Chrysler is still saying the pattern is a little bit expensive, we have to have some discussions about whether we can tweak it or not tweak it. Maybe we can do some things creative," Lewenza said in an interview.

"For example, they look at the C$3,000 signing bonus and say 'Jeez that's a big chunk for us to absorb all at once, and can I be flexible?", he said.

The union, which represents about 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three, has asked Chrysler for a written proposal in response to the Ford deal.   Continued...

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