UAW “Not Close” to Contract Agreement with Chrysler

Ford Motor Company has announced that it will continue its contract negotiations beyond tomorrow’s deadline and General Motors Company and Chrysler Group have said that they may follow suit.

In an email statement announcing the company’s plans to extend its talks with the UAW, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans declined to give details. On Monday, however, the head of the automaker’s America’s division said the talks were “going smoothly.”

The United Auto Workers union’s four-year contracts with Detroit’s Big Three automakers are set to expire just before midnight on Wednesday.

Today, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said the company is not close to reaching an agreement with the union. Speaking with reporters at the Frankfurt auto show Marchionne said, “The negotiations are not concluded and I don’t have a contract yet. We are not close.” He later stated that he was optimistic a deal could be reached before tomorrow’s deadline.

On Monday night, UAW negotiators met with Chrysler and GM.

Concurrent negotiations with GM and Chrysler were expected to last well into the night tonight and sources familiar with the matter have said that the union is far from reaching an agreement with Ford.

Among the hurdles to be overcome in the union’s negotiations with GM and Chrysler is the amount of signing bonuses workers will receive once the new contracts have been ratified.

Before any proposed deals can be presented to union workers, representatives from the local bargaining units must review the terms. Those representatives have not yet been summoned to Detroit which most believe is an indication of how far negotiators still have to go since the process typically takes an entire day to complete.

In the event no agreement is reached before tomorrow’s deadline, negotiators will have to extend the current contracts. Under the terms of the 2009 bankruptcies, UAW workers at GM and Chrysler are barred from striking. If the contract negotiations break down altogether, the parties would have to submit to binding arbitration.

The UAW has indicated that it expects to reach a contract agreement with GM before wrapping up negotiations with Chrysler or Ford.

GM employs about 49,000 union workers and Chrysler has approximately 23,150 UAW workers on its payroll. Ford employs approximately 41,000 UAW workers.

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