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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

UAW picks GM as strike target

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UAW picks GM as strike target

David Barkholz

Automotive News

September 13, 2007 - 7:25 pm EST

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger told General Motors local representatives late this afternoon that GM is the lead company of negotiations and that the locals should prepare for a strike, if necessary, a source familiar with the talks said.

The union traditionally selects a strike target during contract talks, then negotiates a deal with that automaker first. That agreement is then used as the pattern for contracts with the other automakers.

The Detroit 3's current four-year contract with the UAW expires at day’s end Friday, Sept. 14. The UAW is bargaining on behalf of about 190,000 active Detroit 3 employees.

GM and UAW spokesmen could not be reached for immediate comment.

The Detroit 3 want health care reforms and other concessions to shrink about a $20 per hour labor cost gap between themselves and their Japanese counterparts in the United States.

The Detroit 3 generally, but GM in particular, are interested in shifting their combined $95 billion in retiree health care liabilities into a UAW-managed trust.

The carmakers would like to fund the Voluntary Employee Benefits Associations at 60 to 70 cents on the dollar, according to a report by Brett Hoselton, an analyst for KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. in Cleveland.

The UAW could agree to extend the current contract with the Detroit 3 if progress can be made o

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Apparently the UAW has chosen death over life. I'll be glad to see them go even if they choose to take GM with them. Good riddance.

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They didn't pick Cerberus?!

Wussies.

They SHOULD have picked Toyota..... DOH Oh yeah... that's right....

THEY HAVEN'T UNIONIZED THEM YET!

:banghead:

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Go ahead and do it you bastards...

GM and the other "Detroit 3" are so weak that one strike would mean the END of the UAW.

Do it; I frikkin' dare you!

The days of the UAW being fat and powerful on the backs of Detroit are over, one way or another... It's just whatever death they choose it to be.

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Go ahead and do it you bastards...

GM and the other "Detroit 3" are so weak that one strike would mean the END of the UAW.

Do it; I frikkin' dare you!

The days of the UAW being fat and powerful on the backs of Detroit are over, one way or another... It's just whatever death they choose it to be.

On this point we agree!

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CNN/Money article

UAW will butt heads with GM first

The United Auto Workers union could extend talks past a Friday night deadline if progress is made; strike threat still looms.

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer

September 13 2007: 7:44 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The United Auto Workers union has tapped General Motors as its target to try to reach the first contract agreement among the traditional Big Three automakers, a position that gives the nation's No. 1 automaker a strategic advantage over its rivals but raises the risk it could be hit with a strike.

An industry official with knowledge of the talks confirmed GM (Charts, Fortune 500) was chosen as the target Thursday afternoon, and that the union had put talks with Ford Motor (Charts, Fortune 500) and Chrysler Group on hold, giving those automakers an extension in contracts that had been set to expire at 11:59 p.m. ET Friday.

That extension is indefinite, although it can be ended with three days notice from either the union or management. But that is unlikely as the union now concentrates on reaching a deal with GM ahead of the other two.

These negotiations are aimed at reaching a new contract deal that is seen as crucial to the company's efforts to stem ongoing losses and improve their competitiveness with nonunion rivals from Asia and Europe.

It is possible that the union could give an extension to GM as well if progress has been made before the Friday night deadline. Up to this week it has been widely assumed in the industry that either a strike or a management lockout was unlikely, even if a deal was not reached by Friday.

But the threat of a strike seemed to rise Thursday. Workers at a Cadillac assembly and stamping complex in Lansing were readying their union hall to be the area's strike headquarters and are putting together picket signs, Chris "Tiny" Sherwood, president of UAW Local 652, told Associated Press Thursday.

Before Thursday, officials on both sides had reported that bargaining was progressing. Sherwood, who has been in touch with a member of the union's national bargaining committee, said he was told the talks took a turn for the worse Wednesday night.

"Apparently from last night until this morning, everything's changed," said Sherwood. "I've never been asked to get my hall ready for a strike in the last four contracts."

Union officials at several other plants who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak about the talks said they, too, were holding strike meetings and getting their membership ready in case the international union calls for a walkout.

Sherwood said his talks with union officials in Detroit give him the impression that this is more serious than usual. "If it's window dressing, they're sure not acting like it," he said.

GM has 73,454 UAW members still on jobs after buyouts over the last two years that cut more than 30,000 jobs and closed several GM plants.

Ford has 58,300 UAW members after its own round of buyouts, and Chrysler has about 49,000, although it is starting plans to cut union jobs there as well. Chrysler also was sold last month by German automaker DaimlerChrysler (Charts) to private equity group Cerberus Capital Management.

Automakers generally prefer to be the target of talks as a way of having their issues addressed first at the bargaining table. Since the union tries to have all three contracts follow the same pattern, the company that gets the first deal has a better chance of having its negotiating goals addressed in the contract.

By picking GM, the union has chosen not only the largest U.S. automaker, but also the one that is by far the healthiest financially. GM is far more advanced in its turnaround plans that aim at ending years of losses in its North American auto operations. Ford and Chrysler are still losing money in those core operations, although Ford reported a profit for the corporation as a whole in its second quarter.

GM also has had stronger sales than its its U.S. rivals this year, although a much better than expected sales month in August still left GM with year-to-date U.S. sales far below a year ago. It's difficult to tell whether the strike preparation talk is just union drama before the deadline or it's actually serious strike talk, said Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, who specializes in labor issues.

"There's a fine line between theater and substance in negotiations," Shaiken told AP. "Given the stakes, given the complexity, given the tension, you've got a temporary derailment. It's unclear whether it's more serious than that."

David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said he still does not think either side has the stomach for a strike. "I would expect some tension down near the end. At some point in any of these negotiations, you get to a point where there's some tough talk. It just normally arrives a lot earlier than this," he told AP.

New contracts were reached with the auto companies without strikes in 1999 and 2003. There were strikes at individual GM plants during contract talks in 1996, but there hasn't been a nationwide strike during negotiations since 1976. In 2003, the union settled with all three companies without choosing a strike target.

Sherwood said they would find out if the strike threat was real sometime Friday night. In the meantime, local union officials were awaiting further instructions.

All three automakers are seeking relief from promises made in earlier contracts to provide health care coverage to their retirees and family members, a cost not born by nonunion rivals such as Toyota Motor (Charts) and Honda Motor (Charts).

There are more than 500,000 retirees and surviving spouses between the three U.S. automakers, and the estimated costs for the companies exceeds funds they've set aside to make those payments by nearly $100 billion, according to an estimate from rating agency Standard & Poor's.

The companies would like to set up union-controlled trust funds to assume the responsibility of those health care costs going forward. They have proposed putting a combination of cash, stock and debt into those funds to cover the costs, although the funds would likely start out with a discount to the estimated $100 billion liability.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had told union negotiators he could support the idea of those union controlled funds in principal, although many details about the amount of assets in the funds, the mix of assets and whether the companies would have any "backstop" liability if the funds ran short of the assets would still need to be worked out.

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Unfortunately if they were as passionate about building cars as they are about extracting compensation, the domestics wouldn't be in the situation they are now.

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The fact that this guy put his name as "tiny" in print tells you the kind of people we're dealing with IMO. They just don't see the entire scope of things here.

I thought the UAW chose Chrysler as the target last time??? Maybe that was the CAW.

Fine; let them strike. I'd hate to see a smaller GM and Ford and Chrysler, but if it takes that for them to survive then "let it be written, let it be done."

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Unfortunately if they were as passionate about building cars as they are about extracting compensation, the domestics wouldn't be in the situation they are now.

+ 1 - 1000% nail on the head review right there.

The time of union power is over. Sorry. Not the way things will work in a GLOBAL ECONOMY. Good luck unionizing some other industry when you finally kill the auto industry. Of course you had better learn Chinese or Spanish first, 'cause your actions ran all the manufacturing jobs to those countries. The UAW is one of the major reasons a Tahoe is a $50k truck!

And, to recap something else: I am against the huge payout in bonuses for the management at DELPHI as well. That is bull $hit any way you look at it as well. That money should go to the workers or whoever was shorted in the restructuring deal.

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:censored:

Unfortunately if they were as passionate about building cars as they are about extracting compensation, the domestics wouldn't be in the situation they are now.

passionate, huh? let it be known that the uaw forcefed the pontiac aztek to the gm brass. at last, the world knows. aztek;

the by-product of passionate uaw involvement. pshaw! :censored:

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This isn't news. This happens during every single contract talk. They won't strike, this is just a formality at best, especially during this round of talks...so everyone please, go ahead and whine and complain about something that will not happen.

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http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/15/uaw.talks.ap/index.html

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- Negotiators for the United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp. ended a marathon bargaining session early Saturday, more than four hours after their contract was set to expire.

Bargainers, who on Friday night agreed to extend the contract while they continued negotiations, decided to resume talks later Saturday, said GM spokesman Dan Flores, who did not know exactly when negotiators would return to the table.

"The parties have agreed to take a break and resume later on this morning," Flores said. "Our bargaining continues, but both parties have agreed to take a short break."

The hiatus came hours after workers at factories across the country mobilized Friday night for a possible strike. Local union leaders had expected a call from Detroit around 10 p.m. telling them whether the union would walk off the job, but the call never came.

Instead, negotiators agreed to bargain hour by hour as the workers stood by and a midnight contract expiration deadline passed. Local leaders said they were told to go home for the night and wait for updates from Detroit.

This year's contract talks are considered crucial to the survival of GM and its U.S.-based counterparts, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

All three companies want to cut or eliminate what they say is about a $25-per-hour labor cost gap with their Japanese competitors.

The gap, the companies say, is one reason why the Big Three collectively lost about $15 billion last year, forcing them to restructure by shedding workers and closing factories.

The central issue in this year's talks has been skyrocketing health-care costs. Automakers have been pushing the union to take over responsibility for retirees' health care, an unfunded expense estimated at more than $90 billion for GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Automakers want to pay billions into a union-run trust that would take over responsibility for retiree health care, and both sides have been wrangling over how much the automakers would contribute to union-run trusts, according to people who have been briefed on the talks.

A local UAW leader said early Saturday the union also was seeking guarantees for future work at U.S. plants in exchange for taking over health care. The local leader and the other people who were briefed on the talks spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Industry analysts have said they expect GM to offer the union 65 percent to 70 percent of the retiree health care obligation.

The UAW chose GM as its lead company and possible strike target Thursday. Typically, the union negotiates a contract with the lead company and then presses the other two to accept the same terms.

Ford and Chrysler have extended their contracts indefinitely, although talks were continuing and either side could break off the contract extension with three days' notice.

Ahead of the deadline, some workers prepared picket signs, while others watched late-night television or just chatted.

"I'm waiting patiently. We're in it for the long haul," said Douglas Rademacher, president of UAW Local 602 near Lansing. "We're planning for the worst, hoping for the best. We support the international union 100 percent."

Jim Graham, president of Local 1112 in Lordstown, Ohio, told union members to go home and return in the morning for a progress report. He made the decision after speaking with union negotiators.

"From what they're telling us, they're making good progress. If this thing falls through the floor, we're going to be right back here (in the morning)."

As the automakers cut their hourly work forces by thousands through early retirement, UAW membership continued to drop. The union represented 302,500 active workers during contract talks in 2003; that fell to 180,681 this year.

The UAW still could strike GM, or the two sides could continue negotiating and workers would be covered by the terms of the old four-year contract.

Industry analysts said a short strike wouldn't hurt GM too badly. The company had a 65-day supply of vehicles at the end of August; the average is 67 days for the U.S.-based automakers, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank.

Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said the ideal is a 60-day supply, so that indicates GM didn't build up its inventory significantly in anticipation of a strike.

A short strike could actually help GM reduce its inventory of pickups. Right now, the Chevrolet Silverado stands at a 90-day supply, while the industry average for pickups is 81. GM announced last month that it plans to cut 1,200 jobs at one of the plants that make the Silverado, and a strike could speed that process.

But Taylor said a longer strike, or a strike that could hurt hot-selling vehicles, would be disastrous.

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No way will there be strike...the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction will keep that from happening.

GM was the only choice the Union had...Cerberus would have told 'em to f off and sell the carcass of Chrysler and Ford has already sold the family china to pay for their restructuring--it would be like robbing a double-wide when there's a mansion next door---makes no sense any other way.

The great irony in all of this is the VEBA trust-which in one form or another must come out of these contract talks--....the UAW membership will have to agree to a trust (partially) funded with stock of the automakers...so the UAW will become owners of the very companies they've assisted in bringing to the point that a health care trust is needed!

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If you read now they are going hour by hour. But there will probably not be a strike. If there was one it would have been starting at midnight Saturday and ending Monday. Just more for saying they went on strike but not doing much to the company. Or at least that is my thinking.

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The great irony in all of this is the VEBA trust-which in one form or another must come out of these contract talks--....the UAW membership will have to agree to a trust (partially) funded with stock of the automakers...so the UAW will become owners of the very companies they've assisted in bringing to the point that a health care trust is needed!

It's almost funny, isn't it?
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No way will there be strike...the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction will keep that from happening.

GM was the only choice the Union had...Cerberus would have told 'em to f off and sell the carcass of Chrysler and Ford has already sold the family china to pay for their restructuring--it would be like robbing a double-wide when there's a mansion next door---makes no sense any other way.

The great irony in all of this is the VEBA trust-which in one form or another must come out of these contract talks--....the UAW membership will have to agree to a trust (partially) funded with stock of the automakers...so the UAW will become owners of the very companies they've assisted in bringing to the point that a health care trust is needed!

Precisely why GM should bust the UAW. They should take the exact same stance Cerberus would. If the UAW doesn't have the gonads to go after Toyota then it's their destruction. Personally I don't think the current activity is any more than survivors of the Titanic all trying to pile on to a single life boat when the QE II is right next to them. How's that for an analogy?

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No way will there be strike...the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction will keep that from happening.

GM was the only choice the Union had...Cerberus would have told 'em to f off and sell the carcass of Chrysler and Ford has already sold the family china to pay for their restructuring--it would be like robbing a double-wide when there's a mansion next door---makes no sense any other way.

The great irony in all of this is the VEBA trust-which in one form or another must come out of these contract talks--....the UAW membership will have to agree to a trust (partially) funded with stock of the automakers...so the UAW will become owners of the very companies they've assisted in bringing to the point that a health care trust is needed!

:lol: I laughed out loud at the analogy, but (for once) I agree with every word. Irony, indeed!

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Precisely why GM should bust the UAW.

Wouldn't they still be legally responsible for all the health and retirement benefits of retired union workers? Furthermore wouldn't even more people retire in anticipation of this circumstance? Just asking.

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.

..the UAW membership will have to agree to a trust (partially) funded with stock of the automakers.

Partially agree to a trust or ...or a trust partially funded by the UAW.

Just breaking balls...but really what othr choice is there. It isn't 1965 anymore, hasn't been in a while lately :lol: Too bad the rest of America doesn't see it quite as such.

At least I think the mgmt of GM realizes it and so do the unions and workers.

There is a much bigger picture and I just wonder if this is relevant. :unsure:

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