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Chrysler, UAW struggle to reach new agreement

Bargainers for the United Auto Workers union and Chrysler Corp. on Sunday struggled to reach agreement on a new three-year national labor pact while a deadline loomed at midnight tonight. Negotiators worked until about midnight Saturday and resumed work early Sunday trying to draft a contract to cover about 63,000 Chrysler hourly and salaried workers in the United States.

About 10,000 Chrysler Canadian workers are covered by a new contract recently negotiated with the Canadian Auto Workers union.

Much work remains to be done on the UAW-Chrysler contract, company and union officials said. Non-economic matters, which usually are agreed to before economic issues are tackled, remained unresolved Sunday, said a union official speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It's going slow," the official said.

Among the major issues hanging up the Chrysler-UAW talks are pension matters and health-care issues.

The UAW is pressing Chrysler to accept basically the same agreement it has already reached with General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. GM employs about 300,000 active UAW-covered workers, and Ford has about 100,000 active workers.

The GM and Ford pattern agreements call for, among other things, lump-sum payments to current retirees and surviving spouses, a method for increasing pension payments for workers who retired before Oct. 1, 1979, and increases in the amount future retirees will get.

Of the Big Three automakers, Chrysler has the highest proportion of retiree costs since it has nearly one retiree for every active worker. There are about 1.4 active workers for each retiree at GM and about 1.5 actives at Ford for every retiree.