DAIMLERCHRYSLER LOOKING SO MUCH BETTER IT COULD BE A STRIKE TARGET

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, the Chrysler Group was awash in red ink and pink slips. The outlook was bleak, morale was low and the turnaround task ahead was daunting. Fast forward to July 2002. DaimlerChrysler AG second-quarter earnings of $1.09 billion reflect a stellar performance by the Chrysler Group that reported an operating profit of $777 million. That is in stark

What a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time, the Chrysler Group was awash in red ink and pink slips. The outlook was bleak, morale was low and the turnaround task ahead was daunting.

Fast forward to July 2002. DaimlerChrysler AG second-quarter earnings of $1.09 billion reflect a stellar performance by the Chrysler Group that reported an operating profit of $777 million. That is in stark contrast to like-2001's $146 million loss.

Chrysler is expected to keep up the pace and end the year with an operating profit, prompting DC Chairman Juergen Schrempp to boost overall financial targets. He now expects operating profits to be triple (it used to be only double) the $1.33 billion earned in 2001.

The numbers caught Canadian Auto Workers union President Buzz Hargrove off guard on the opening day of negotiations with DaimlerChrysler Canada, to replace the 3-year labor contract that expires Sept. 17.

The strength of the results prompted the CAW to rethink target selection (a lead company will be announced shortly after Labor Day).

“There's no reason now to sympathize with Chrysler or say that we have to exclude them because of their financial situation,” says Hargrove. “They're strong enough now to lead bargaining.”

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