Chrysler workers ride with Cerberus
A Chrysler worker on the assembly line
KAI RYSSDAL: UAW chief Ron Gettelfinger had a striking change of heart about Cerberus taking over Chrysler. Here's Marketplace's Amy Scott.
AMY SCOTT: Ron Gettelfinger was so opposed to a deal with Cerberus, he traveled to DaimlerChrysler headquarters in Stuttgart over the weekend to talk the CEO out of it. But something changed his mind.
David Cole directs the Center for Automotive Research. He says the bottom line is if Chrysler goes under, workers will go down with it.
DAVID COLE: The only job security that the workers in Chrysler — whether they're the hourly or salaried workers — have is with a successful Chrysler.
Cole says no doubt costs will be cut. Cerberus's plans aren't clear yet. But Chrylser is laboring under an estimated $19 billion in retiree health care and pension liabilities.
And Martha Grevatt fears the worst. She's worked for Chrysler for almost 20 years as a tool and dIe maker. She says private equity firms like Cerberus are known for buying distressed companies only to close plants and lay off workers.
MARTHA GREVATT: And then they sell the company that they have shrunk to someone else for many times what they paid for it. That's what they're in business to do.
Cerberus insists it's focused on long-term results. But if that does involve cuts in jobs or benefits, it could affect workers at all three U.S. automakers. The UAW's current contract expires in September. And analysts say Ford and GM will try to match any concessions workers at Chrysler make.
In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.