USA: GM, UAW still locked in contract talks - reports

By just-auto.com editorial team | 17 September 2003

GM and the United Auto Workers were locked in contract talks early on Wednesday, long after the union reached tentative deals with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler that call for plant closings and thousands of job cuts.

"We continue negotiations on new contracts. There's nothing to report publicly at this time," GM spokesman Tom Wickham said in remarks reported by Reuters shortly before midnight Tuesday.

The Reuters report also said that an industry source close to the talks said earlier that the biggest remaining issue between the UAW and GM, the world's largest automaker, involved operations at parts supplier Delphi Corp., a GM spinoff.

Existing labour contracts between Detroit's Big Three automakers and the UAW, covering more than 760,000 current and retired workers and their spouses, expired on Sunday. Under terms of Delphi's spinoff in 2000, it is subject to GM contract terms in the 2003 deal as well.

Among other issues, Reuters reported that union sources said GM and Delphi were seeking to match or improve on a deal under which Visteon Corp., a former Ford unit and still its largest auto parts supplier, will be able to contract new workers at sharply lower wages than existing employees.

Meanwhile, The Detroit News has reported that DaimlerChrysler AG is free to sell or close as many as seven unwanted Chrysler Group parts plants under its UAW pact.

While details remain sketchy, The Detroit News also said that it has learned that the proposed DC deal includes a $3,000 contract signing bonus, a lump-sum payment in the second year and general wage increases ranging between 2 percent and 3 percent in the third and fourth years. By comparison, the union's 1999 contract with Detroit's automakers -- considered one of the richest in the industry's history -- included a $1,350 signing bonus and 3 percent wage increases in each year of the contract.