UAW strike against Chrysler ends quickly

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A strike at Chrysler by the United Auto Workers ended less than seven hours after it began Wednesday, Oct. 10, as the union announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with the automaker. More than 32,000 UAW members had gone out on strike at 11 a.m. ET after an all-night negotiating session failed to get a deal by the union-set deadline, CNN reported.

Just after 5 p.m. ET, the union issued a statement saying the strike would be recessed because of the tentative deal. “This agreement was made possible because UAW workers made it clear to Chrysler that we needed an agreement that rewards the contributions they have made to the success of this company,” said Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president.

Chrysler President Tom LaSorda said the proposed contract, which needs to be ratified by UAW members, includes a key company goal of shifting an estimated $18 billion in future retiree health costs from the company to a union-controlled trust fund. “The national agreement is consistent with the economic pattern, and balances the needs of our employees and company by providing a framework to improve our long-term manufacturing competitiveness,” LaSorda said.

The strike affected 24 manufacturing plants and 22 other facilities, spread across 14 states, according to CNN. The only facilities not subject to the strike were five assembly plants that Chrysler already had scheduled to be shut down due to excess inventory of the vehicles that they make; those plants employ another 13,500 hourly workers.

Chrysler officials had been pushing the union to grant them the same health care concessions given to GM and Ford Motor Co. last year in which the automakers saved billions by having workers pay for part of their health insurance. But officials at Chrysler had said the company’s new owner, private equity group Cerberus Capital Management, did not want to pay the cost of transferring the administration of retiree health care to the union.

The union, which recently reached an agreement with GM following a two-day strike, says it will turn its attention to Ford when it concludes its dealings with Chrysler.