Chrysler Workers Head to the Picket Line

By: Jeremy Hubbard, ABC News
By: Jeremy Hubbard, ABC News

Early on Oct. 10, tens of thousands of Chrysler workers left the assembly line for the picket line.

The United Auto Workers could not come to terms with the automaker by a morning deadline, but it was in the afternoon that the two sides reached a tentative agreement.

Chrysler workers grabbed picket signs and started walking the line late morning on Oct. 10, just as they'd promised to do--if their union and Chrysler couldn't reach a deal.

"Well if this was necessary to do, we were ready to do it," assured striking worker Lee Bainter.

It's the first UAW strike against Chrysler in a decade.

Bargaining between the UAW and the newly-private automaker has been slowed by several issues.

The union wanted job security pledges, while Chrysler wanted the same health care concessions that the union granted to GM and Ford two years ago.

"All of it is important to me, but mainly the stability of the jobs, and the healthcare--all of it basically," admitted Danielle Duran, also a striking worker.

Also at issue--how much Chrysler would pay into a company-funded, union-run trust that would take on roughly $18-billion in retiree health care debt.

"They're in a position to do the right thing, and we're in a position to do the right thing, and we're trying to do what's right," one employee on the picket line stated.

The strike is the second nationwide walkout against a U.S. automaker in less than a month.

GM workers across the country walked off the job for two days before a deal was reached in late September.

Analysts say if the Chrysler strike is just as short, it'll have little impact on the auto maker. But if it's long, it could be devastating for the company.

Nearly 45,000 union workers at two dozen U.S. Chrysler facilities are now off the job.

A new tentative contract with GM includes job security pledges that the union is likely to seek from Chrysler as well.

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