CAW expects Chrysler deal early Friday

Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:58pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union said on Thursday he expects to have a cost savings agreement completed with Chrysler by Friday morning.

"With a good effort from everybody, we should have this done sometime by tomorrow morning," CAW President Ken Lewenza told reporters on Thursday night.

"We are wrestling with an number of issues. Not issues that are showstoppers, but issues, quite frankly, that you have to have confirmed in writing to dot the 'I's and cross the 'T's," he said.

Chrysler, controlled by Cerberus Capital Management LP, has just one week left to strike deals with all its stakeholders and prove its viability in order to qualify for billions of dollars in emergency loans in Canada and the United States.

The company is currently surviving on C$1 billion ($813 million) in short-term loans from Ottawa and $4 billion from Washington.

It has requested an additional C$3 billion in Canada and could be eligible for at least $6 billion in extra U.S. funding if the governments approve its restructuring plan.

One of the conditions set by governments in both countries was that the company must obtain significant concessions from its unions.

The labor deal would help clear the way for Chrysler to form a strategic partnership with Italian car maker Fiat SpA, another government requirement for Chrysler to receive funding.   Continued...

<p>Labour activists and union members gather at Queen's Park to advocate pension protections from government and corporations before Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union President Ken Lewenza spoke in Toronto, April 23, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>