Fresh off a two-day strike at General Motors Corp, the United Auto Workers union has set an Oct. 10 strike deadline for contract negotiations with Chrysler LLC, sources close to the negotiations said. The union will not necessarily walk off the job if an agreement is not reached by the deadline of 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) Oct. 10, the source said. Negotiations could be extended on an hourly or daily basis.
The UAW is using a landmark agreement reached with GM as a framework for negotiations with Chrysler. It is expected to announce on Oct. 10 whether that contract has been ratified by members.
But officials at Chrysler have said the company's new owner, private equity group Cerberus Capital Management, does not want to pay the cost of transferring the administration of retiree health care to the union. That deal is expected to save GM billions in the long run, but Chrysler has far fewer retirees to deal with and stands to save less in the long-term. Chrysler officials have, however, been pushing the union to grant them the same health care concessions given to struggling GM and Ford Motor Co. last year in which the automakers saved billions by having workers pay for part of their health insurance, according to the source.
Robert Nardelli, Chrysler's new chief executive officer, has also said he would like to sell off some of the company's assets such as an in-house trucking company and Chrysler's parts warehouses.
Chrysler last week temporarily idled production at several U.S .plants in order to deal with weakened demand for its products.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007