DETROIT — The United Auto Workers decided Friday not to enter contract negotiations with Chrysler Corp. in the absence of a strike deadline and will not begin talking until closer to the Oct. 15 expiration date.
Negotiations would likely begin in July or August, the UAW and Chrysler said.
"The position of the (Chrysler) Council is that they do not want to enter negotiations at this time without a strike deadline," UAW President Owen Bieber said after the UAW's Chrysler Council meeting.
The UAW began urging the No. 3 auto maker to reopen contract negotiations early after the union concluded contracts with General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. last fall. It was seeking to win for its Chrysler members the higher wages, improved benefits and worker protection provision included in the GM and Ford contracts.
But Chrysler steadfastly refused to terminate the contract early, saying it would have been a unilateral concession to labor. Chairman Lee Iacocca said last fall that talks would be more fruitful if conducted with the contract in place.
"The decision revolved around whether or not people felt you could go to the bargaining table without a hard strike deadline and be able to negotiate to the maximum," Bieber said.
Chrysler workers are paid an average of $1.19 per hour less than GM and Ford workers.