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Coming Down to the Wire: Contract Talks Focusing in on GM

Union reportedly seeking “signing bonuses” of up to $10,000.

by on Sep.12, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson and UAW President Bob King shook hands at the opening of contract talks, in July.

Contract talks between the United Auto Workers Union and domestic carmakers are fast approaching the Sept, 14 deadline and UAW negotiators are pushing to wrap up the talks with General Motors and Chrysler first before taking on Ford – the only company the union is legally able to strike this year.

With all three Detroit makers reportedly unwilling to budge with new pay increases or added benefits, labor bargainers are struggling to find something they can take home to members – and are pushing for “signing bonuses” of as much as $10,000 a worker.

Company officials, meanwhile, are dangling the prospect of new U.S. jobs – while that carrot is offset by a stick that threatens to move even more UAW work out of the country.

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There had been much speculation that the UAW would first target Ford, as it is considered the healthiest of the domestic makers – and because the possibility of a strike would appear to give the union more leverage that it might have at GM and Chrysler.  Under terms of their 2009 federal bailouts, those two makers cannot be struck and, should negotiations deadlock, a final decision will be made by an outside arbitrator. But that isn’t how things seem to be working out.