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CAW chief says Chrysler deal possible Wednesday

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A deal on a new labour contract with Chrysler Group LLC could be reached later on Wednesday, the president of the Canadian Auto Workers union said after the automaker submitted a written economic proposal to the union on Tuesday night.

"I absolutely think it's possible," CAW National President Ken Lewenza told Reuters after a morning meeting with the CAW's Chrysler negotiating team. "There's still some very, very minor issues around the pattern that have to be dealt with. We're going to keep working at it over the course of the day."

Fiat SpA's Chrysler is the last of the Detroit Three automakers without a contract agreement with the CAW. Ford Motor Co. (F-N) workers ratified their deal last weekend and General Motors Co. (GM-N) employees vote Wednesday and Thursday.

Chrysler, which has more than 8,000 unionized workers in Canada, declined to comment.

The advance in negotiations marks a significant shift from Tuesday, when the union said talks were far apart as Chrysler tried to eliminate a cost of living increase and adjust lump sum payments the union had already negotiated in deals with Ford and GM.

The CAW said it was not flexible on such key elements of the agreement, established in a framework deal with Ford. The Ford deal set the pattern for talks with GM and Chrysler, a strategy meant to ensure that no company has a labour cost advantage over its rivals.

While Lewenza was heading to Oshawa, ON, for a GM ratification meeting on Wednesday morning, he said he will keep in contact with Chrysler throughout the day and attend a formal meeting with the company in Toronto at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The union, which represents more than 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three automakers in Canada, had warned that it could give 24 hours' notice of a strike if talks stalled.

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