USA: Union talks Delphi help with GM

By just-auto.com editorial team | 13 December 2005

The United Auto Workers union isn't negotiating with Delphi but began talking with General Motors two weeks ago about a possible deal that could soften the supplier's plans to cut jobs and close plants, the UAW's top GM negotiator told The Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday.

UAW vice president Richard Shoemaker reportedly said Delphi has only talked to the union twice since it filed for bankruptcy in October, when it gave the union two different wage proposals. AP noted that the UAW rejected both proposals, which would have cut production workers' wages from US$27 an hour to $12.50 an hour or lower. Shoemaker said the UAW hasn't offered its own wage proposal.

"Their proposal, the quality of it, is such that it doesn't warrant us making a counterproposal," Shoemaker said in an interview with The Associated Press.

UAW president Ron Gettelfinger said he plans to meet with local leaders on Wednesday about a proposed agreement to cut Ford's health care costs.

Gettelfinger wouldn't reveal specifics but said the agreement is similar to one reached with GM although not of the same magnitude because GM has more retirees. GM's agreement makes hourly workers and retirees pay more for their health care, AP noted.

The Associated Press added that Delphi said late last month that it was making progress with GM, its former parent, in talks aimed at avoiding a costly strike, and Shoemaker said in his interview it's premature to speculate on how GM might help Delphi, although the automaker could provide cash for employee buyouts at the supplier.

Shoemaker and Gettelfinger reportedly said the UAW had a good relationship with Delphi in the past, but that has changed since Delphi chairman and CEO Robert S. "Steve" Miller took the helm this summer.

"In the first meeting we had with Miller, we thought he was sincere in making every attempt to keep the company out of bankruptcy. But now, it's become extremely clear to us that he had but one goal, and that was to take the company into bankruptcy because it's big business," Gettelfinger told the AP. "He was in the checkout line the day he came in. He has no interest in the long-term viability of Delphi and could care less if it operates in this country or not."

Delphi spokeswoman Claudia Piccinin had no immediate comment on Tuesday morning, AP said.

The news agency reported that Delphi has said it's committed to reaching an agreement with GM and the UAW.

"We agree with recent UAW comments that the most appropriate resolution can be crafted through discussions among GM, Delphi and the UAW," Delphi said in a recent statement, according to The Associated Press.