Chrysler CEO Says New Board Coming With Fiat Deal

Chrysler Chief Executive Robert Nardelli says the U.S. government and Fiat will appoint a new board of directors if Chrysler joins forces with the Italian automaker.

Nardelli said in an e-mail sent Thursday to employees that the majority of directors will be independent and not employed by either Fiat Group SpA or Chrysler. He says the new board would pick a chairman and appoint a CEO with Fiat's approval.

The e-mail obtained by The Associated Press doesn't say if Nardelli will stay. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters earlier this week that he could end up running Chrysler.

Chrysler and Fiat are trying to work out an alliance before April 30. Without one, the U.S. government says Chrysler won't get any more aid and will likely be liquidated.

Fiat has a nonbinding agreement to take a 20 percent stake in Chrysler in exchange for Fiat's small-car technology, something Chrysler lacks. Marchionne, in an interview published Wednesday, said Fiat will walk away from the deal unless the U.S. automaker's unions agree to major cost cuts.

And Chrysler sent out a letter to employees saying its Canadian manufacturing operations will not survive in the long-term without significant concessions from the Canadian Auto Workers Union.

The letter, from CEO Nardelli and and company President Tom LaSorda, said the company has to get its total labor costs at Chrysler Canada down from C$76 ($62.80) per hour to Toyota's Canada's labor rate of about C$57 per hour and the CAW's refusal to do so is jeopardizing the company's future.

Chrysler has about 9,400 employees in Canada, 8,000 of whom are represented by the CAW at plants in Windsor, Brampton, and Toronto, Ontario. The Canadian government said on Thursday that without a deal with the CAW, Chrysler Canada would not be viable.

Some specific examples included reducing shift premiums, ending out-of-Ontario health care coverage, and eliminating life insurance for current and future employees.

"Time is very short," the letter said. "We have only two weeks before a final decision must be made. Let me be clear: Our negotiations are about saving Chrysler Canada. We are coming down to the wire in the fight for our company's survival —and we need your support."