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Negotiations stall as Kenosha Chrysler nears midnight deadline

Chrysler employees in Kenosha did their part to try and avoid bankruptcy.

Local president Glenn Stark of the United Auto Workers said 89 percent of those who voted Wednesday favored a restructuring of their contract from 2007.

But the company might not able to avoid bankruptcy unless a deal is reached by midnight tonight to reduce Chrysler's secured debt of $6.9 billion. And media reports said the negotiations stalled early this morning.

Chrysler's fate is now in the hands of about 40 hedge funds which control about 30 percent of the debt.

Four banks which own the rest of the debt had agreed to erase it for $2 billion, but the hedge funds were holding out for a better deal.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm urged the hedge fund owners not to be greedy, and to keep Chrysler's 54,000 employees in mind.

Stark, the Kenosha union chief, says he does not know of any plans for layoffs at the moment.

Workers gave up automatic raises in exchange for performance bonuses.

Overtime and benefits got tighter, and retirees lost dental and vision insurance, plus co-pays for medicines.

Stark said he felt especially bad for that.

Current workers, meanwhile, said they're just happy to still have jobs.