The Detroit-based United Auto Workers Union has responded to Chrysler's announcements of 26,000 job cuts by saying its members' contracts with the giant automaker will be "fully enforced".

 "The 'turnaround plan' announced yesterday by Chrysler Group underscores the importance of the job and income security protections we negotiated with DaimlerChrysler in 1999," said UAW president Stephen P. Yokich.

"The UAW has a long history of negotiating contracts designed to protect our members, their families, and their communities from cyclical and structural changes in the market," Yokich said."We have been down this road before, and we are confident that our current contracts with DaimlerChrysler will provide our members and their families with economic security during this difficult period."

"Our contracts with DaimlerChrysler will be fully enforced," said UAW vice president Nate Gooden, who directs the UAW DaimlerChrysler department. "By working together within the framework of the national agreements, we are confident that we can improve the future prospects for UAW DaimlerChrysler workers and the Chrysler Group."

Yokich and Gooden will be attending DaimlerChrysler meetings in Germany in February to further ensure that the rights and interests of UAW-represented workers at Chrysler Group are fully understood and protected. UAW agreements with the Big Three automakers have long included extensive job and income security provisions that protect the pay and benefits of idled workers.

The contracts also provide retirement benefits that are among the best available to hourly workers anywhere in North America.The contracts also contain provisions that have allowed for enhanced retirement benefits under similar circumstances in the past.