The United Auto Workers union launches a strike against Chrysler LLC after the two organizations fail to negotiate a new labor contract.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger on Monday authorized more than 45,000 union members to strike should a tentative agreement not be in place by today’s 11 a.m. deadline.
Workers have walked out of all Chrysler plants nationally, except for those already idled as part of the auto maker’s plans to reduce inventory.
The strike follows last month’s 2-day work stoppage against General Motors Corp. that ended in an agreement securing new products for union plants in exchange for major health-care concessions by the UAW.
The final contract includes the formation of a Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA), requiring GM to make a one-time $35 billion investment in the fund to finance retiree health-care benefits.
Talks between the UAW and Chrysler reportedly are stalled over the funding of a similar fund.
Additionally, Chrysler owner, private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, reportedly is reluctant to agree on issues of job security and the promise of future products at its UAW-represented facilities. Both are elements that were an integral part of the deal between the union and GM.
Neither the UAW nor Chrysler immediately returned calls seeking comment.
In what some saw as preparation for a possible strike, Chrysler confirmed last week that five of its 10 U.S. assembly plants would be shut down, starting Oct. 9, for a total of eight weeks.
A sixth plant in Sterling Heights, MI – home to the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring midsize car production – reportedly was to be idled for inventory control next week.