For a day, Chrysler and union show unity

July 25, 2011 at 4:10 PM
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich., July 25 (UPI) -- United Auto Workers' leadership and Chrysler executives wore identical shirts in a show of unity as they began contract negotiations Monday.

Both negotiating teams at their first day of meetings wore identical maroon shirts, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"We have gone through a lot together and we are going to continue to forge ahead," said Al Iacobelli, Chrysler's vice president of employee relations.

Since the last contracts were negotiated, Chrysler and General Motors have gone through bankruptcy and were granted billions of dollars in federal bailout aid.

At a press briefing at Chrysler's headquarters, UAW President Bob King said, "I think the negotiations are different because we collectively feel we have a huge responsibility to the American public to thank them for their support."

"It wasn't too long ago that we emerged from a very painful restructuring," Iacobelli said.

"Unfortunately," he added, "we have a history in this industry of not getting it right … as a result, it has cost us thousands and thousands of jobs."

But how long the humility will last is another question. Union leaders have said they would not accept concessions this year, as all three of Detroit's big automakers have recently shown a profit.

The Free Press reported Monday Chrysler is expected to show a second consecutive quarterly profit in its second quarter report. Analysts expect Ford Motor Co. to show a quarterly profit of $2.4 billion, down slightly from the second quarter a year earlier. GM expects earnings of $1.97 billion for the quarter, the newspaper said.

While profits are showing a turnaround, Chrysler has been able to cut average labor costs for 23,000 workers from $76 per hour in 2007 to $49 this year.

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