There are early reports, this morning, that some Chrysler workers have started walking off their jobs because their contract with the company has expired. Only a few short weeks ago, UAW workers went on strike against GM and fortunately for them and the company the strike was short in nature and did not cause any long term damage to GM's latest plan to turn the company around. There are major differences between Chrysler and GM, the biggest being that Chrysler is no longer a public company, but instead it has become the LLC where private owners make day to day decisions. This major difference might not hold well for the UAW because there will not be the same level of pressure, from Wall Street, to sign an early settlement because public stockholer money is not involved in contract decisions.
Of course, anything can happen when a large company goes out on strike and I have seen conventional wisdom get tossed out on it's ear more than once when large companies, like Chrysler, have thousands of worker on strike and not building new cars. To say that Detroit's "big three" automobile companies are struggling for survival would be a huge understatement. What is causing the most stress at Chrysler and the other big three companies are not the wage and benefit packages of current employees, but the pricey retirement and medical packages that were promised to workers in previous contracts which often times add thousands of dollars to the price of a car before it even enters the assembly line.
Add to these wonderful retirement and health care packages offered by Chrysler and other American automobile companies a retail atmosphere where the American consumer prefers brands made in Japan and you end up with a very bleak future for Chrysler and the other big three automobile companies. The real trick to current UAW negotiations is to get as much money and benefits as possible for current and retired members without financially killing the company that you are negotiating with. Right now Chrysler, GM and Ford are trying to reinvent themselves and prove worthy of customer trust in their new product lines. A long strike at Chrysler will further delay these plans and I hope that Chrysler management and the UAW reach a quick settlement so Chrysler and it's UAW workers can get back to building new cars and trucks.
Read more about the Big Three:
UAW/GM Reach Quick Settlement After Strike
UAW Strike Could Destroy GM's Future
GM Sales Rise 6% In August
Chevrolet Volt The Future Of Cars?
US Automobile Business