Chrysler, CAW To Begin Talks

Automaker is seeking aid from the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments, but first must reach cost-cutting agreements with the Canadian Auto Workers union.

TORONTO (AP) -- The Canadian Auto Workers union said it plans to begin talks Monday with Chrysler LLC on possible worker concessions.

Automakers seeking Canadian federal and Ontario provincial government support must reach cost-cutting agreements before March 31 to qualify for the money.

The CAW reached a deal with General Motors Corp. on March 8, and workers ratified it March 11.

"Getting to the bargaining table with Chrysler has taken longer than expected," union President Ken Lewenza said in a statement. "But the CAW fully expects to get the process back on track and work towards reaching an agreement with Chrysler that will secure jobs here in Canada."

In a statement, Chrysler said, "We look forward to a constructive dialogue with the CAW as we enter this important phase of our discussions."

The Canadian union has said it wants Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. to agree to the same terms. But Chrysler and Ford have said the GM worker concessions don't go far enough to make them competitive.

Ford isn't seeking Canadian or U.S. government aid. However, it wants to renegotiate its CAW labor agreement to be more competitive and bring customers back into showrooms.

The CAW represents about 8,000 workers at Chrysler plants and offices in Windsor, Ontario, Brampton, Ontario, and Toronto.

In the U.S., talks involving GM, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union reportedly are going slowly because of a lack of a deal on concessions by debtholders.

GM and Chrysler are nearing a March 31 deadline to get concessions from the union and debtholders as they try to finish restructuring plans required under the terms of their U.S. government loans.

GM and Chrysler are living on $17.4 billion in U.S. government loans and have requested $21.6 billion more. The Obama administration's autos task force will make the final decisions on the loans as it tries to restructure the troubled U.S. industry.

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