Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Chrysler's Turn with the UAW


Here we go again, round two of the UAW contract talks, and this time the target is Chrysler. Here in Michigan, though, I'm getting a different vibe that I did two weeks ago covering the two strike at the GM .

With the GM contract in place, and with many of the changes it will bring, including a two-tier wage scale and the establishment of a VEBA fund to deal with healthcare expenses, there is a question of whether or not Chrysler will push for a radically different contract.

Yes, Chrysler wants a healthcare deal similar to the one the UAW gave GM and Ford a few years back to keep them from sliding in to bankruptcy. I think it will ultimately get a deal with those types of healthcare givebacks.

Will Chrysler give the UAW job guarantees similar to what the union got from GM. I doubt it. To the extent Chrysler can guarantee that it will invest in its U.S. plants, I think it will do so. But we are unlikely to see the specific targetinmg of products to specific plants, mainly because Chrysler is still trying to develop its product plan under new owner Cerberus.

But the real question I get from people here in Detroit is whether there will be a strke. I think a short one- or two-day strike is a possibility, but again the vibe here is different. There is a sense I get from talking with people that Chrysler and the UAW are going to get on the same page.

We'll find out if that's right over the next two days.

Questions?  Comments?