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2 locals balk at GM concessions

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2 locals balk at GM concessions

Talks yield deal at Michigan parts plant



Negotiations over concessions at five General Motors parts plants so far have resulted in one tentative agreement at a Michigan factory. At least two other union locals have balked at GM's demands for wage cuts and health care concessions.

The negotiations are taking place at four plants that GM acquired from Delphi last year. GM purchased the parts plants, which employ about 5,000 people, at the end of Delphi's bankruptcy case to ensure the factories would continue to supply parts for the automaker.

Analysts expect GM to sell those parts plants, and union concessions could help.

If new deals are reached, they would essentially break up a master agreement negotiated in 2007 among the UAW, Delphi and GM.

The UAW declined to comment on the negotiations. A GM spokesman confirmed that a tentative agreement has been reached at the parts plant in Wyoming, near Grand Rapids, but would not comment further.

Workers there say they expect the agreement to halt raises until 2015, require higher premiums and co-pays for health care coverage, and result in initial $3-an-hour wage cuts for skilled trade workers.

"They're threatening us with either 'You take it or we close your plant,' " said Rodney Childs, 50, of Grand Rapids.

In a memo to members, union leaders in Rochester, N.Y., called GM's proposal "totally unacceptable."

The proposal included wage cuts, a reduction in severance payments for production workers from $40,000 to $10,000, and the elimination of vision and dental benefits.

"Our contract is good through Sept. 14, 2011, and management must live up to our current contract," said the memo from officials at UAW Local 1097.

A proposal at GM's steering plant in Saginaw also was unacceptable, said Steve Schwab, a member of the executive board at UAW Local 699, which represents about 2,000 workers.

Workers also say that the demands come as GM has withheld since January annual cost-of-living raises that are contractually promised.

"General Motors is back to playing hardball," said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.



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