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General Motors Corp.
and the United Auto Workers are reporting progress on reaching an agreement that
would offer early retirement buyouts to thousands of General Motors Corp. and
Delphi Corp. workers. The agreement, however, would not eliminate the threat of
a potential strike against
The buyout agreement is not
expected to require ratification by union members, though it would probably
require approval by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing
Paul Krell, UAW director of
communications, said there was progress being made on the buyouts. “There is
progress and they were planning to work over the weekend,” Krell said.
GM spokesman Dan Flores also said
the talks on the buyouts are proceeding. “We’re not yet in position to say where
we’re at yet,” he said. Another GM official, however, said that the negotiators
were close enough that he had actually expected an agreement last week. The
agreement, however, never materialized while talks continued.
David Healy of Burnham Securities
also told the Associated Press that GM’s announcement last week that it would
increase the amount set aside for restructuring charges showed the two sides
were getting closer to some kind of an agreement.
Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president,
declined last week to say whether the UAW had offered GM the Ford model, which
called for buyouts of $35,000. Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center For
Automotive Research in
GM currently has 105,000 employees
Transferring several thousand
However, unlike the buyouts, any
agreement requiring concessions and altering the basic terms of the existing
GM-Delphi labor pact would have to be put to a ratification vote among UAW
members working in
The UAW has gotten concession
agreements ratified in the past but the Delphi bankruptcy also has spawned a
feisty grassroots movement opposed to giving into
Initially, GM was thought to have
sought a comprehensive deal that would neutralize the strike threat. But
apparently its negotiators have now decided to concentrate instead on the buyout
agreement. The shift in GM’s position was underscored by changes to GM’s 2005
financial report that increased the company’s losses by $2 billion, to $10.6
billion, and spelled out that the giant automaker has set aside additional money
to cover the cost of restructuring its North American operations.
Top UAW officers, however,
indicated last week that it is unlikely that negotiators will reach a deal that
could end the threat of strike at
UAW officials described the
three-way negotiations between the union,
There were a lot of significant
issues to be resolved at Delphi, noted Gettelfinger, who last week also
dismissed the importance of the March 30 deadline imposed by
Lauren Asplen, spokeswoman for the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America, which is
Miller has said if there is no
agreement by March 30, Delphi will have no choice but to ask the judge
overseeing the bankruptcy case to set aside the company’s existing contracts
with six different labor unions, including the UAW. The unions, however, have
warned they would strike if the court voids their contracts.
But a Delphi spokeswoman said that