Thursday, October 11, 2007

UAW, Chrysler reach tentative agreement

Daniel Mears / The Detroit News

Workers file out of the employee entrance Wednesday at the Chrysler Trenton Engine Plant. Later Wednesday, the United Auto Workers announced a tentative deal with Chrysler LLC, ending the brief strike.

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

The United Auto Workers has announced a tentative agreement with Chrysler LLC, ending a brief strike against the Auburn Hills automaker.

Terms of the new contract, which still must be ratified by rank-and-file union members, were not immediately available. The automaker said the deal includes a memorandum of understanding to transfer responsibility for retiree health care to a union-managed trust fund.

The settlement was announced by the union just before 5:30 p.m., ending a strike that began at 11 a.m. after a UAW-imposed deadline passed without a 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 UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

Chrysler President Tom LaSorda confirmed the deal shortly after the UAW announcement.

"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," he said.

If ratified and approved by the courts and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the deal will cover some 45,000 UAW members employed by Chrysler.

"I think that's excellent," said Deanna Rhineheart, 38, who works in shipping and receiving at the Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills.

"We all need our jobs, whether it's UAW and management," she offered, guessing as to why the deal was reached so quickly.

"It's a beautiful thing," said the mother of two from Farmington Hills.

General Holiefield, who heads the UAW's national Chrysler division, said the union was able to achieve its most important goals.

"Once again, teamwork in the leadership and solidarity in the ranks has produced an agreement that protects jobs for our communities and also protects wages, pensions, and health care for our active and retired members," he said.

Workers will be notified by Chrysler to report for duty at their next scheduled shift, the UAW said.

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