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UAW Expects Pattern Contract With Ford, Chrysler

September 27, 2007
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UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said early Thursday, September 27, that he expects contract agreements with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC to follow the pattern set with General Motors.

“We expect this will basically be the same agreement we’ll get at the other companies,” Gettelfinger said in an interview with WJR-AM radio in Detroit. “There’s some modification, but for the most part, it will be a pattern agreement.”

It might not be that easy.

Unlike GM, Ford and Chrysler have different CEOs from the ones who negotiated the last UAW contract in 2003—Alan Mulally is now the Ford CEO and Bob Nardelli is heading Chrysler. Chrysler also has new ownership with Cerberus Capital Management LP now holding an 80.1 percent stake.

And last year, Chrysler was unable to get midcontract health care concessions that GM and Ford negotiated in 2005. A few months later, DaimlerChrysler AG put Chrysler up for sale.

Labor negotiators at Chrysler and Ford said they are waiting to hear which automaker will be next to work out a new contract with the UAW. Spokespeople for both automakers said Thursday they had not heard from the union.

“The decision is totally up to the union,” Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.

Gettelfinger said he would begin meeting with his top officials Thursday afternoon to discuss the situation with the other two automakers. He expects the pace of negotiations with the companies to accelerate soon.

“There’s no reason at this point why we can’t get both of those done at the same time,” Gettelfinger said. “If we run into difficulty at one or the other, then we’ll make a decision. I would hope we could do that. I’m not saying that’s what we will do.”

A Chrysler spokesman said the company had not seen details of the union’s agreement with GM. He declined to comment on any elements of the deal that have been reported.

Filed by Dale Jewett and Philip Nussel of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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