Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chrysler’s new owner promises no further job cuts

Chrysler’s new owner promises no further job cuts

Chris Vander Doelen, CanWest News Service

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Cerberus Capital Management LP, the new owners of Chrysler, promised Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove Tuesday that nobody at the company will lose their jobs because of their takeover.

Hargrove and other senior members of the union said they have complete confidence in the sincerity of the company’s new owners and that Chrysler is set to grow again.

Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg also told CAW leaders during a meeting at Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., that he agrees with their opposition to what they call “unfair trade” between North America and Asia.

“He’s the only one we’ve met who agrees we have to do something about trade,” Hargrove said after a meeting with Feinberg.

Ken Lewenza, president of CAW Local 444, which represents Chrysler workers, said the entire CAW delegation was impressed by the company’s commitment to the future of Chrysler.

“The first thing he said was, ‘We’re not going to slice and dice this company,’ ” Lewenza said. “He said Chrysler is not just another manufacturing company; it’s an icon and we want to grow the business.”

Later in the day, Hargrove told members of CAW Local 444 that “a lot of the concerns we had have been put to bed.

“We went to the meeting seeking a letter of commitment that there would be not one single layoff as a result of this transaction, and we walked away with a letter saying exactly that.”

Feinberg was unable to sign the letter because Cerberus has not officially taken control of the new Chrysler, but it was signed instead by Windsor native John Fransciosi, the Chrysler Group’s vice-president of labour relations. The letter stated “there are no new plans – other than those previously announced — to reduce headcount.

“Excluding abnormal market conditions and productivity, there are no additional job cuts in connection with the transaction announced.”

Lewenza said the letter and commitment includes both unionized office and production workers.

Hargrove said he was floored by Feinberg’s personal warmth.

“It was a unique experience in my dealings with people in the financial sphere,” Hargrove said. “He gave us his personal background, how he grew up, where’s he from. It was very open.”

“It was an excellent meeting. He convinced us with his sincerity.”

Windsor Star

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