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UAW boss King snubs Chrysler CEO Marchionne, Sergio replies with an angry letter

Last night the current contract between the UAW and the Chrysler Group expired and to prevent the workers from being forced to work without a valid contract, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne flew from the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany to Detroit to finalize the new contract with UAW President Bob King – the only problem is that King didn’t show up.


Sergio Marchionne is a jet-setting individual who moves around the world to run the automotive empire that is Fiat SpA but for the auto boss to fly from Frankfurt to Detroit in order to meet with UAW President Bob King - only to have King no-show – is insulting to say the least. King’s excuse for not showing up even though he planned to meet with the Chrysler CEO who he knew would be traveling from overseas was that he had competing engagements, which we can assume met that he was busy with the other two Detroit automakers whose contracts also expired at midnight last night.
Needless to say, Sergio Marchionne was not too pleased with Bob King’s absence and in wake of being stood up, Marchionne issued a frustrated-sound letter to the head of the UAW…a letter which TorqueNews has acquired from a source who wished not to be named.

Marchionne’s letter to UAW President Bob King is as follows:
Dear Bob,

It is now 10pm, September 14th 2011 and the collective agreement between Chrysler Group LLC and the UAW is going to expire in a couple of hours.
You and I met last weekend and agreed that we had to get this new contract agreed and signed by today.

We have a large number of people working on the issues, 13 bargaining committees who since July 25 have been working diligently to resolve matters that are essential to the formulation of a new collective agreement that will take us into 2015. They have done their work, and we are down to the resolution of a few issues, primarily involving the economics for our employees for the next 4 years.

I flew back from the Frankfurt Motor Show late last night to be here today to finalize the dialogue that has been started by our teams but that required your presence and mine to conclude. You, unfortunately, could not be here, I am told, due to competing engagements.

We have known about this expiration for a long time.

It was discussed at length during an incredible painful period in 2008 when we argued and pleased, together, to be given a second chance to put Chrysler right. And we even agreed that were we still around in 2011, we would not go back to the old adversarial and confrontational ways of the past to resolve unsettled matters; that we would have someone else arbitrate our differences.

And so as I sit at my desk now, I am thinking of our 26,000 employees who tomorrow will be working without a new contract, without even an understanding between Chrysler and the UAW that the old one is extended. We have not even agreed on the procedures for arbitration.

Until now, there have been encouraging signs of a new paradigm governing the relationship between us.

We share a view that World Class Manufacturing is to be rapidly deployed throughout the organization to put dignity back in the workplace, to make our factories and out people safer, to produce high quality products by eliminating all waste from our processes.

We share a commitment to create a new order wherein our employees can share in the economic success of this new Chrysler, one in which we can gradually restore economic well-being to our people but in a manner which reflects and parallels both the improvement in the market acceptance of our products and the financial performance of the company.

There shared commitments are at the heart of the new Chrysler. They are the reason why notwithstanding the naysayers are against all odds, we are still here today.

They are the reason why Chrysler people, be they blue or white collar, have worked incessantly, with unwavering dedication and without hesitation during the last 27 months to bring Chrysler back.

There are the reason why we have continued our investment in programs in the US, committing more than 4 billion dollars without knowing the outcome of these labor negotiations.

You and I failed them today.

We did not accomplish what leaders who have been tasked with the turning of a new page for this industry should have done.

We did not manage to agree to a set of simple conditions that would have given certainty and peace of mind to the lives of more than 110,000 actives and retirees.

I know that we are the smallest of the three automakers in Detroit, but that does not make us any less relevant. Our people are no less relevant.

And they are certainly more relevant than some of the larger issues, including those on the international front, that are close to your heart but that do not impact on the quality of the lives of our people.

I need to travel out of the country now for business reasons and will return early next week.

I am willing to extend the current contract by an additional wek to allow closure on all outstanding matters.

I hope you concur.


Wow, right? Those are some harsh words from the CEO of Fiat and Chrysler.

Sergio Marchionne was pretty clearly upset by the fact that he made time to tie up the loose ends with the new UAW-Chrysler contract with Bob King but from the sound of things, King opted to go talk to either Ford or General Motors. Based on what Sergio had to say in his letter to King, this could be the kind of thing that could crimp relationship which could further slow things down. However, from the tone of this note, it sounds like things were pretty much finalized between the Chrysler Group and the UAW. Now that Sergio has graciously extended the current contract deal for a week, it will be interesting to see how Bog King responds and how much longer it takes for the two parties to come to an agreement.

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