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UAW in Tentative Pacts With GM and Delphi

September 19, 2003|From Associated Press

DETROIT — The United Auto Workers wrapped up tentative labor contracts with the Big Three automakers Thursday, concluding two months of talks.

"Since the start of these negotiations, one of our goals was to bring this industry together," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said Thursday after the UAW reached terms on tentative, four-year contracts with General Motors Corp. and supplier Delphi Corp.

The UAW earlier this week reached tentative agreements, also for four years, with Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group and supplier Visteon Corp.

The UAW appeared to have sacrificed generous wage increases to maintain nearly free health care.

In exchange, according to sources familiar with the talks, the automakers apparently gained flexibility to close or sell plants.

All agreements require ratification by rank-and-file union members, a process that's expected to take place within 10 days. The GM pact generally mirrors the others in economic terms, Gettelfinger said, but he declined to elaborate.

Two sources familiar with the deals said they included a $3,000-signing bonus, a lump-sum payment in the second year and wage increases between 2% and 3% in the third and fourth years.

At the end of the second quarter, a UAW-represented assembler earned $25.63 an hour.

The sources said the pacts also included provisions for plant closings or sales.

Ford has said it planned to close four U.S. plants -- Edison Assembly in New Jersey, St. Louis Assembly in Missouri, Cleveland Aluminum in Ohio and Vulcan Forge in Dearborn.

However, Ford is reconsidering the St. Louis plant, where it builds the Explorer sports utility vehicle, and has negotiated an option to close its full-size van plant in Lorain, Ohio, according to a source familiar with the tentative deal who spoke on condition of anonymity.

GM hasn't publicly targeted any plants for closing recently, but two considered to have uncertain futures are aging factories in Linden, N.J., and Baltimore.

UAW leaders met Wednesday in Dearborn, Mich., with union representatives of at least seven Chrysler parts plants that could be sold or closed as part of the new labor pact, according to a union source.

The list includes plants in Michigan, Alabama, Indiana, Ohio and New York and affects about 12,000 workers.

In Wednesday's trading on the New York Stock Exchange, General Motors rose 27 cents to $41.96, Ford climbed 24 cents to $11.73, and DaimlerChrysler edged up 37 cents to $38.54.

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