United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said Monday that the union must offer health care concessions to Chrysler similar to those it gave Ford Motor and General Motors in 2005.
"We've been talking to Chrysler quite frequently - we do need to find a way to fix the problem there now that Chrysler is in a downward mode," Gettelfinger said in an interview on WJR-AM in Detroit. The UAW two years ago gave health care concessions to Ford and GM that saved the companies billions of dollars, but refused to grant the same deal to Chrysler because of its stronger financial condition at the time.
Combined, the U.S.-based carmakers have more than $100 billion in long-term retiree health care costs that analysts say must be reduced.
Chrysler's parent, DaimlerChrysler, recently announced it would sell a controlling stake of its U.S. operations to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Analysts have said Cerberus likely will demand deeper concessions from the union than Daimler would have.
Cerberus has said it will leave the negotiations to Chrysler officials, led by Chrysler Group President Tom LaSorda.
"I'm pleased to say discussions I've had with (Cerberus) ... have been very professional," Gettelfinger said. "They have a lot of confidence in Tom LaSorda. ... They have confidence in the process that has been established."