By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ) – As Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sets a $35 million fundraising goal for the United Way torch drive, he’s also focusing closely on getting a deal with the Canadian Auto Workers Union by the Monday night deadline.

“We have made some progress, but there’s a long road to travel between now and conclusion.”

Marchionne responding to reports that the CAW has offered to accept a lower starting wage. The workers want raises from the newly profitable “Detroit Three.” Marchionne’s been one of the most outspoken of the auto CEO’s in saying they have to get costs in Canada in line with those in the U.S.

“I think the facts are the facts,” said Marchionne. “Ignoring them or sweeping them under the carpet is not going to make anybody’s life better. My sincere hope is that we all come to sort of the stark realization of where we are and that we move it on from here.”

The CAW continues talks with all three carmakers, and has said that it could strike all three, or decide to narrow its focus to one. The deadline is 11:59 PM Monday.

Talks are expected to continue through the weekend.

Marchionne is the chairman of this year’s United Way fundraising drive. He’s said his company’s near-death experience helps him understand how others need assistance in difficult times.

“The men and women who work at Chrysler appreciate how important it is to get a helping hand during a time of crisis, giving us a chance to change our destiny.”

The United Way is also setting a goal of making metro Detroit one of the nation’s top five “most liveable” areas by 2030. That date was chosen because it’s when children born this year will graduate from high school.

“Life is made of turning points. Our hope today is that this is one of those moments that forever changes our community and our way of looking at the future.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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