Chrysler co-president Tom LaSorda hopped across the border to Canada yesterday. It was not a leisure trip.
LaSorda paid a visit to the House of Commons in Ottawa, delivering some very grim news to those assembled. In a nutshell, he explained that Chrysler's sales in Canada are down by about 27% compared to 2008, and in order to continue operations in the Great White North, the company needs (a) support from the Canadian government, (b) concessions from the Canadian Auto Workers union, and (c) help resolving a tax dispute in Ottawa.
The union concessions are Chrysler's biggest bone of contention. As in America, Chrysler pays its workers more than those employed by Toyota, Honda, and other companies. (In Canada, the difference is about $20.) On the upside, GM brokered a deal with the CAW earlier this week, so we're hoping Chrysler will fare similarly well. The $2.3 billion in bailout funds Chrysler is requesting may be somewhat more elusive.
These days, every company seems to be having similar talks with government entities around the globe, and many fall on deaf ears. In Chrysler's case, though, chances are good that Canada will listen. After all, about 9,000 Canadian workers make a living thanks to Chrysler--which, contrary to the calculations of TCC's number-crunching monkeys, isn't 3% of the population, but it's still a lot of folks.