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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.


Detroit Auto Talks Emphasize Cooperation over Confrontation.

Two-tier wages could present a sticking point, however.

by on Aug.04, 2011

UAW President King wants creative solutions.

Negotiations between Chrysler and the United Auto Workers are off to a good start, the automaker’s top executive says, while United Auto Workers Union chief Bob King continues to stress cooperation over confrontation.

“The tone of the dialogue so far has been incredibly productive,” Chrysler/Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said during the Center for Automotive Research’s annual Management Briefing Seminars.

Talks between the UAW, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors began last week in Detroit and the first contract should be completed by mid-September.  This year’s talks are unique in that terms of the 2009 federal automotive bailouts bar the union from striking either GM or Chrysler – while few expect a confrontation at Ford, either, where there hasn’t been a strike in nearly a third of a century.

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UAW president Bob King said the union is more committed than ever to working with the automakers in negotiating a contract that would leave them globally competitive.  The union eventually will focus on one maker to come up with a “pattern” contract it can then press for at the other two domestic manufacturers – though industry observers believe that the final settlements could be more unique than ever before, reflecting the wide differences between GM, Ford and Chrysler.