WisBusiness: Kenosha Chrysler workers preparing to walk out

By Brian E. Clark

More than 800 union workers at the Chrysler plant in Kenosha are preparing to walk out at 10 a.m. tomorrow, an official with the United Auto Workers said today.

“We are assembling signs and people are getting their picket line assignments. We will strike if we are given the word,” said Bob Hansen, financial secretary treasurer for the UAW Local 72.

Hansen said “no comment,” when asked if he was optimistic that the UAW and Chrysler would reach an agreement so a walk-out could be averted.

The UAW told Chrysler this weekend that a strike is possible if contract talks do not progress. But analysts said the union’s action may be a bargaining tactic.

Talks are continuing and a Chrysler spokeswoman said the company is continuing to negotiate for a settlement acceptable to both sides.

The UAW went on strike for nearly two days last month before coming to a tentative agreement with General Motors Corp. Some 74,000 GM workers are now voting on that contract.

The union normally settles with one U.S. automaker and then uses that deal as a pattern for an agreement the other two. But this year, both Chrysler and Ford have said they have different needs than GM and may need different contract terms.

According to published reports, the deals offered by Ford and Chrysler are not as generous as the contribution GM has said it will put into a proposed retiree health care trust.