The Carter administration does not intend to ask Chrysler Corp. and the United Automobile Workers Union to renegotiate their newly signed contract as a condition of getting government loan guarantees for the ailing company, officials said yesterday.
This possibility seemed to have arisen with remarks last Saturday by presidential inflation adviser Alfred Kahn that the new pact, not yet ratified by rank and file workers, exceeds the administration's voluntary pay standards.
Kahn labeled the contract "inflationary" and said President Carter might not approve $1.5 billion worth of loan guarantees needed by Chrysler to stave off bankruptcy because of the agreement.
White House press secretary Jody Powell said yesterday the administration is not seeking renegotiation of the contract. Instead, he explained, it is a question of "those who benefit" from the loan guarantees being "willing to assume their part of the burden."
The administration, before approving a Chrysler rescue plan, will "have to look at the whole package to see what the UAW is willing to do to help out," Powell declared.
Other administration sources said Kahn, in raising the issue in the first place, was reflecting Carter's view, not just his own.
Kahn also attacked as inflationary the new contracts at General Motors and Ford, which the Council on Wage and Price Stability found last week to be in probable violation of the pay standard. His comments provoked some pointed comments yesterday at a meeting of the administration pay advisory committee.
R. Heath Larry, president of the National Association of Manufacturers and one of the business members of the committee, complained the advisory group did not know enough about COWPS procedures and mathematics.
It was a "mystery to him," Larry said, why "Frank Fitzsimmons was able to waltz his Teamsters contract" past COWPS, while other contracts involving the rubber workers and now the UAW were found not to comply.
Larry said he wondered if the latest COWPS finding had come in response to criticism of the administration by another politician. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is challenging Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination, criticized the administration last week for not responding vigorously to price and wage development that added to inflation.
Fitzsimmons, president of the Teamsters and a labor member of the committee sitting across from Larry, responded that the mystery to him was why nothing had been done about price increases for steel and oil.
COWPS director Robert Russell told Larry, "I resent the inference that (the GM and Ford) notice was influenced by political considerations." The decision of probable non-compliance "was in the works well before" Kennedy made his criticisms in a speech in Kansas City, he said.
Another labor member, John Lyons, president of the Ironworkers, suggested Kahn's attacks could jeopardize the so-called national accord between organized labor and the administration that was the bais for labor participation on the advisory committee.
That accord called for consultation on a wide variety of issues, Lyons declared. And consultation "does not constitute merely being advised of the result," he said. The labor members want to have an input before decisions of that type are made, Lyons insisted.
In response to Lyons' questions as to whether the same attention was being given to prices as to wages in the auto industry, Russell said both Ford and Chrysler had gotten a prior okay from COWPS that their increases on the 1980 models complied with the price standard before announcing the increases.
Meanwhile, workers at two of Chrysler's busiest plants voted against approving the new contract, the UAW said. Most other locals were approving the agreement, and ratification is still expected, the union said.
Workers at the two plants, in Syracuse, N.Y., and Belvidere, Ill., appeared to be unhappy the contract contained inadequate job security provisions.
The UAW said final ratification votes will be taken Friday, a day later than expected, because of difficulty in reaching union members who have been laid off. Nearly 30,000 of the 110,000 UAW members at Chrysler are on indefinite layoffs because of low sales and high inventories of new cars.