United Auto Workers and Chrysler Corp. officials started talking yesterday about ways to cut an additional $260 million in wage gains from a contract the union ratified in November.
The congressionally mandated wage sacrifice is part of a rescue plan designed to give the financially troubled automaker $1.5 billion in federal loan guarantees.
"Right now, we're at the stage where we are just trying to put some figures and statistics together," UAW spokesman Jerry Dale said last evening. "You might say we're in the ascertaining stage," he said.
Dale said the contract reopening talks in Highland Park, Mich., a Detroit suburb, are scheduled to continue today, and may go into Sunday. He said he expects the negotiators to complete their work on a reworked contract before Monday.
The talks were conducted amid bad feelings generated by Canadian UAW officials' announcement Thursday that they would not accept the wage sacrifices required in the congressional plan, and that they would not participate in current Chrysler-UAW contract renegotiation discussions.
That rejection was on behalf of UAW-Canada's 14,000 members. It means that the union's 80,000 employed U.S. Chrysler workers must fully bear the burden of any agreement designed to meet wage reduction requirement in the congressional rescue plan.
UAW's American negotiators retalitated Thursday by approving a resolution demanding that Chrysler avoid transferring to Canada any of the money or benefits it saves or improves through U.S. concessions.
UAW-Canada director Robert White said in a telephone interview yesterday that the resolution is unfortunate.
"The U.S. workers view us as leaving them alone and opting out of Congress' plan," White said. "But the Congress should not have put us in their plan in the first place, because, as Canadians, we have no standing in Congress," said White.
UAW President Douglas Fraser said yesterday the union "hadn't figured out yet" what U.S. workers must give up to make up for an estimated $25 million to $30 million the Canadians would have sacrificed.
But UAW spokesman Dale said the Canadian decision could tack an additional $250 per worker onto the amount American Chrysler workers will have to sacrifice in wages or benefits over the life of their three-year contract, which expires in 1982.
That pact already contains $203 million in salary concessions, shared by both Americans and Canadians. Those concessions are proportionate salary losses, compared to higher paying contracts signed last year by General Motors and Ford.
The $260 million extra that Congress has asked UAW to cut from its Chrysler pact is part of a total $2 billion in loan and cost breaks the company must win from suppliers, creditors, dealers and employes in order to receive the $1.5 billion in federal loan guarantees.