Ripple Effect of Chrysler Sale In Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Daimler-Chrysler has agreed to sell controlling
interest of its Chrysler division for $7.4 billion. Private equity firm
Cerberus will control 80 percent.
Just last week UAW workers at the Kentucky Truck Plant approved
concessions to Ford. If Chrysler cuts even more jobs and wages, that
could put the UAW in an even weaker position as negotiates the next
“We got enough to worry about. We just got to worry about Ford right
now,” says Ford worker Bill Mullens. “We can't worry about Chrysler.”
But Ford workers operate under the same national UAW contract as
Chrysler and GM workers. With that national contract about to expire,
tough negotiations from Chrysler’s new owner could cost all autoworkers,
including local Ford workers.
And that's not including what they've already given up in concessions at
both of Louisville’s Ford plants.
“I think we're going to have to. That's all there is to it,” says Ford
worker Pat Stephens.
“I think we're getting sold out any doggone way. Taking that COA,
collective operating agreement, you lose overtime, you lose... You just
lose!” says Ford worker Mike Jones.
As automakers cut costs, autoworkers -- especially new autoworkers --
will pay the price.
“The union is agreeing to what they call two-tier wages,” says John
McElroy of Autoline Detroit. “So, when somebody hires in new, they come
in at a substantially lower wage rate. And, it takes them a number of
years to build up to where everybody else is.”
And McElroy tells me by phone that the biggest issue is a pension system
and health care costs that are growing at a double-digit rate.
“I don't think any car company can afford that. And that is definitely
going to be pressure that is going to be put on the Ford worker,” he says.
Ford workers who have given till it hurts.
“What else are we going to give up?” asks Jones. “Living?”
Formal negotiations on a new national contract are set to begin in July.
The contract expires in September.
The UAW’s endorsement of the Chrysler deal is a big shift from earlier
this year. Union President Ron Gettelfinger had warned that a private
equity buyer would “strip and flip” Chrysler, by selling it off in pieces.