German union backs U.S. Chrysler workers

The 2.4-million-member IG Metall union, representing German blue- and white-collar metalworkers — including autoworkers at Daimler-Chrysler’s German plants — is opposing the company’s move to jettison its U.S. Chrysler division, and calling for a solution that benefits both the company and U.S. workers.

“We don’t have any interest in seeing Chrysler sold to a locust,” said Joerg Hofmann, IG Metall leader in the German state of Baden-Wuettemberg. (Locusts are known for ravaging their surroundings.) “There should be a solution for our colleagues in the U.S. which benefits the Chrysler brand. A purely financial investment with the aim of making a quick buck doesn’t do much in this respect.”

So far, Cerberus, Blackstone Group and Magna investment corporations are the leading contenders to buy the U.S. Chrysler division, which employs about 80,000 U.S. workers.

The 1998 Daimler-Chrysler merger created the world’s fifth largest vehicle corporation. At that time, the new company had 420,000 workers. Today, worldwide, the workforce has declined by nearly 60,000. In 2006, Daimler Chrysler increased revenue by 1 percent to $7.3 billion. The company said it lost money in the Chrysler division, but other divisions met or exceeded projections.

The powerful IG Metall union has signed agreements with the U.S. Steelworkers and Machinists unions and with British unions to resist layoffs and prevent transnational corporations from pitting workers in one country against workers in another.

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