Fiat's Sergio MarchionneEnlarge Photo
No one would say that Chrysler's been doing well in recent months, but at least its situation hasn't been as dire as GM's. Smaller than The General and engaged to a sexy, Italian brand, Chrysler has clung to the promise of a modestly rosy future--until today.
In an interview with this morning's Globe and Mail, Fiat SpA's CEO Sergio Marchionne says quite plainly that he's prepared to break off partnership negotiations with Chrysler unless the company's unions in the U.S. and Canada agree to labor concessions. Specifically, Fiat wants to bring UAW and CAW wages in line with workers at Japanese and German automakers' plants on both sides of the border.
That's one stumbling block. The other? As you likely know, the Fiat/Chrysler engagement has an expiration date: if the two companies can't agree on a feasible partnership deal by April 30, Chrysler will likely be forced into bankruptcy. As of today, Marchionne sees only a 50/50 chance of such a deal going through:
“Absolutely we are prepared to walk. There is no doubt in my mind,” he said. “We cannot commit to this organization unless we see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Mr. Marchionne, 56, said Chrysler workers on both sides of the border have to end their sense of entitlement if the wrecked auto maker is to have any chance of repairing itself.
“The minute you talk to me about historical entitlement in an organization that is technically bankrupt, it's a nonsensical discussion,” he said.
We're guessing that Senator Bob Corker and his union-unfriendly GOP pals have already cracked open a jug of moonshine to celebrate.