DETROIT Chrysler LLC may fall short of its target of 10,000 unionized workers accepting buyouts or early retirement offers, a senior union official said on Wednesday.
"I don't think we will get quite 10,000," General Holifield, a United Auto Workers vice president, said at an event at Chrysler plant in Detroit that makes the Viper sports car. "With the economy the way it is, people are trying to hold on to what they have ... Jobs are not that easy to find."
Holifield said Chrysler, majority-owned by Cerberus Capital Management LP CBS.UL, might have to negotiate richer buyout offers if it fell short of its target. "We may have to enhance the packages some or get more creative in that area, but so far I think they are doing pretty good," he said.
Chrysler has set a target of cutting between 8,500 and 10,000 hourly jobs through this year as part of its turnaround effort.
Holiefield declined to say how many Chrysler workers could take buyouts as the struggling automaker attempts to cut costs and winnow slower-selling models from its lineup.
He said it would be several more weeks before the union had a more complete view of the number of buyouts. "I would think that maybe in another couple of weeks or so we may have a better barometer," he said.
Holifield, the UAW official charged with negotiating a four-year labor contract with Chrysler last year, said the union was also talking to the automaker about reversing a decision to close its Newark, Delaware, assembly plant.
Chrysler said last year it planned to close the facility, which makes the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen sport utility vehicles.
"As long as that plant's running, there is hope. We never say die," Holiefield said.
(Reporting by David Bailey, Kevin Krolicki, Soyoung Kim; editing by Gerald E. McCormick/Jeffrey Benkoe)