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Chrysler, United Auto Workers Restart Contract Talks After Breakdown

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DETROIT -- Contract talks between Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union have restarted after breaking down earlier this week over financial issues, the union and the company said Saturday.

UAW President Bob King and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne had "productive discussions" on Friday and talks are continuing, both sides said in a statement.

Bargaining broke down Wednesday over key financial issues, and the union said it would shift its focus to Ford. Two people briefed on the talks said the stalemate occurred over limits on the number of workers who are paid an entry-level wage and other financial issues.

UAW spokeswoman Michele Martin said the union is now working toward agreements with both Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. She would not comment on details of the bargaining.

King also talked with Ford on Friday, and the two sides in those talks will focus on money issues starting Monday.

The union wants to cap the number of entry-level workers at 25 percent in 2015, while Chrysler wants no limit, said the two people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Entry-level workers make $14 to $16 per hour, about half the wage of longtime UAW workers. The union wants the lower-paid workers to move up to the higher wage of around $29, while the company wants to control costs by paying more workers at the lower rate.

About 12 percent of Chrysler's 23,000 factory workers now are paid the lower wage, and the carmaker plans to hire thousands more over the next four years as it retools factories to make new models.

The union already has reached a deal with General Motors Co., and workers are voting on the pact. It includes a $5,000 signing bonus and profit-sharing checks that will likely exceed the $4,300 workers got this year. Entry-level workers get pay raises but longtime workers don't. The deal also includes promises to reopen a factory in Spring Hill, Tenn., and add at least 5,100 union jobs.

The GM deal will be a template for the other two companies, but there will be differences because Chrysler isn't posting big profits like Ford and GM.

Workers at a GM factory in Lansing, Mich., already have voted to approve the contract, with 57 percent of production workers and 77 percent of skilled trades workers in favor, according to the union local's website. The vote at the Lansing Grand River plant was among the first in the company.

Plants at all three companies continue to run under extensions of the old contracts.

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