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Published: Monday, 10/10/2011

Chrysler, UAW talks break for a day without deal

Local leaders given few details at meeting

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WARREN, Mich. — Union leaders from Chrysler facilities around the country assembled in a Detroit suburb Monday expecting to hear details of a new four-year contract with the company. Instead, they were told to wait for a couple of days.

UAW spokeswoman Michele Martin said Monday that no agreement has been reached, and that bargaining will resume on Tuesday morning. Neither the union nor the company would say what’s holding up a deal.

Union leaders from outside Detroit were told at the meeting to stay in town for another meeting that’s scheduled for Wednesday, a sign that both sides are close to an agreement. But it was unusual for the UAW to hold the meeting on Monday without having a deal, and it indicates that the talks are snagged on money issues.

UAW President Bob King and Vice President General Holiefield had little to say to about 200 local leaders Monday at a regional UAW office in Warren, Mich., said one official who attended the meeting.

Neither King nor Holiefield talked about sticking points in the talks at Chrysler, the last of the Detroit automakers without an agreement with the union. The two spoke for a short time and said they were not ready to recommend a deal to the membership, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private.

“The introductions were longer than the meeting,” the official said.

Workers at General Motors Co. approved a new contract late last month. Voting is under way at Ford Motor Co. At both companies, the union agreed to forego annual pay raises for most workers in favor of profit-sharing checks and signing bonuses. The companies held their labor costs steady but promised thousands of new union jobs.

Talks with the UAW are closely watched because they set the pay and benefits for 112,000 auto workers nationwide, and they set the bar for pay at auto parts suppliers and other manufacturers.

Bargaining continued with Chrysler through the weekend and into Monday morning over money issues, spokeswomen for both sides said. All the non-money issues have been settled for several days.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Italian automaker Fiat SpA, said Friday that the GM and Ford deals may be too rich for Chrysler. The company, unlike GM and Ford, lost money during the first half of the year.

Marchionne said he hopes a new deal can be reached without resorting to binding arbitration. Chrysler workers gave up the right to strike over wages under the terms of its 2009 government bailout. But either side in contract talks can take disputes to an arbitrator.

On Friday, the union and Chrysler were hung up on how many workers would be paid entry-level wages and the size of signing bonuses and profit-sharing checks, the local union official said.



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