The United Auto Workers formally asked Chrysler Corp. to reopen their contract for the purpose of regaining compensation parity and
returning to the smae bargaining cycle as General Motors and Ford Motor
Co. However, back-and-forth communications between the parties finally
resulted in a decision to not bargain early. (The UAW–Chrysler
contract does not include a specific provision for reopening negotiations and is not scheduled to expire until October 15, 1985.)
The disparity began to develop in 1979, when Chrysler employees
negotiated the first of several concessionary contracts to aid the
company in overcoming its financial difficulties. In 1982 and 1983
settlements at Chrysler, the disparity was narrowed, but at the time of
the reopening request, Chrysler workers were still earning about $1 an
hour less than employees of the other companies, and they were not
covered by job and income security plans equal to those at GM and Ford.
Chrysler rebuffed the union’s request for a reopening because
the union wanted to set a deadline for completing the talks, backed by
the right to strike. However, Chrysler did offer to discuss
modification of the pay and benefit provisions of the contract, despite
its contention that matching Ford’s and GM’s pay and benefit
levels would result in labor costs higher at Chrysler than those at GM
and Ford because of a higher proportion of retired employees drawing
pensions and medical benefits at Chrysler.
The union responded to Chrysler’s decision by calling for a
meeting of its Chrysler Council, composed of 150 local union officials.
At the meeting, the union leaders decided not to accept Chrysler’s
offer because of the lack of the strike weapon. As a result, bargaining
will not start until August 1985.