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UAW, GM Come to Terms


The United Auto Workers ended its brief strike against General Motors early Wednesday after GM delivered the job security guarantees the union had demanded.

 

In addition, the tentative agreement calls for the creation of a new Voluntary Employee Benefit Association or VEBA trust, which will take over responsibility for GM's retiree health-care liabilities.

 

"We feel very good about this agreement," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

 

Gettelfinger didn't offer any specifics but the guarantees sought by the union included commitments by GM to build more passenger cars in theUnited States , including a new generation of compact cars and the production version of the Chevrolet Volt hybrid vehicle, which GM is hoping to have on the road by 2010. In a speech earlier this month, Gettelfinger said he was concerned production of small cars could leave the U.S. entirely.

The agreement also is expected to include a signing bonus instead of wage increase. Workers also will get lump sum payments in the second, third, and fourth year of the agreements instead of pay increases, sources said.

"There's no question this was one of the most complex and difficult bargaining sessions in the history of the GM/UAW relationship," said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO.

"The national agreement paves the way for GM to significantly improve its manufacturing competitiveness, providing the basis for maintaining and strengthening its core manufacturing base in the United States," he said.

"This agreement helps us close the fundamental competitive gaps that exist in our business," Wagoner said. "The projected competitive improvements in this agreement will allow us to maintain a strong manufacturing presence in the United States along with significant future investments," Wagoner said.

 

Wagoner offered no details of the settlement but GM is expected to transfer enough cash into the new trust to cover about 70 percent of the current healthcare liabilities, which are estimated to exceed $50 billion.

GM spokeswoman Katie McBride said the company would outline the financial impact of the agreement after the contract was ratified by union members.

 

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