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MONDAY BUSINESS | PREVIEW: Some of the major business
and economic events scheduled for this week

UAW, Auto Makers Begin New Contract Talks

June 14, 1999|Associated Press

National labor talks between Detroit's auto makers and the United Auto Workers begin this week in the midst of record-breaking sales that have left General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler flush with cash. The triennial negotiations kick off today with ceremonial handshakes over the main bargaining table at Ford headquarters. Similar ceremonies are set for Tuesday at DaimlerChrysler and Wednesday at GM. The health of the U.S. auto industry and the costly lessons learned from last year's devastating UAW strikes against GM decrease the chance for a walkout after this year's contracts expire Sept. 14, some industry analysts say. The talks this week will cover about 407,000 UAW members at assembly and parts plants nationwide, down 15,000 from 1996. More than half work for GM. Job security, health-care costs, overtime demands and the assignment of work to outside suppliers are among this year's top issues, as they were during the last round in 1996. But since then, the industry has been through a tumultuous series of reorganizations, cost-cutting programs, acquisitions and mergers. Each of Detroit's auto makers is financially stronger. Despite that, auto executives note that they remain under extreme pressure to keep costs down.

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