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Union to Fight Chrysler Reductions

Source:ap.org Author:Tom Krisher Date:03/25/14 Click:

DETROIT (AP) -- A local United Auto Workers president is promising to fight Chrysler LLC's effort to cut the jobs of 119 car designers who are represented by the union.

Jeff Hagler, president of UAW Local 412 in Warren, said the workers, in Auburn Hills and a facility in Detroit, were to be told of the cuts on Thursday.

"It's like war against the union, and we're going to go back to war against them," Hagler said.

Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said the move is part of an announcement made in November that Chrysler would cut up to 12,000 hourly and salaried jobs because of reduced demand for its vehicles.

The designers, as well as other UAW workers to be let go, would receive most of their pay for nearly three years under the UAW's new contract with Chrysler, she said.

But Hagler said the reductions have nothing to do with Chrysler's lower sales and instead are coming because the company is contracting out the designers' work. He would not say what action the union plans to take but said its membership was to meet Thursday to discuss options.

Tinson maintained that the salaried layoffs are part of the November announcement.

"That was based upon volume reduction, or market demand," she said. "These are a ripple effect of that announcement."

Chrysler, which is in the midst of a restructuring after a majority stake in the automaker was sold last summer to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, announced in November it planned to cut up to 12,000 jobs, including 8,000 to 10,000 hourly and 2,000 salaried jobs.

The cuts came in addition to 13,000 reductions Chrysler announced last February, including 11,000 hourly and 2,000 salaried workers.

Chrysler will offer buyouts of up to $100,000 to workers at 17 of its U.S. facilities as part of its total goal of cutting up to 21,000 manufacturing jobs, or nearly half its U.S. hourly work force.

Around 6,400 hourly workers had left the company under that program as of June, Tinson said, but additional retirement packages could be rolled out it. The program is scheduled to run through 2009.

Also given buyout offers were 110 employees at the company's Auburn Hills headquarters who are in an hourly bargaining unit but are paid salaries.

The union and company still are negotiating whether the 119 designers will get similar offers, Tinson said.

Chrysler, which has about 45,000 UAW-represented hourly workers, has other U.S. facilities that still are awaiting buyout offers and is working with the UAW to determine when those will be introduced.

Employees have until Feb. 18 to decide whether to take the latest offers. Some workers could leave as early as April, but the dates they will leave the company will vary by worker and by plant.

Under Chrysler's current offer, employees who are on temporary or indefinite layoff or have at least one year of service can get up to $100,000 and six months of health benefits if they agree to cut ties with the company. Retirement-eligible employees can get a $70,000 lump-sum payment as an incentive to retire with a regular pension. A separate program gives workers close to retirement their full benefits if they retire early, but they get no lump-sum payment.

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