GM Reaches Contract Deal With UAW

By Agence France-Presse General Motors Corp. on Thursday reached a tentative contract deal with the United Auto Workers union, the last of the Big Three U.S. automakers to seal a labor agreement this week. Sources familiar with the talks said the deal with GM, like those with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler, could provide more flexibility in shutting down unprofitable facilities as U.S. automakers fend off foreign rivals, particularly the Japanese. GM said the deal, covering approximately 115,000 employees, was reached Sept. 18 after two months of negotiations. The automaker declined to reveal details but said the UAW will explain the accord to its members as part of the union's ratification process. Ford and Chrysler announced contract deals earlier this week after the expiration Sunday of four-year contracts with the automakers. "These were difficult, complex sets of negotiations that were handled in probably the most professional manner that I have experienced," said Richard Shoemaker, UAW executive in the union's GM division. A separate deal also was reached with Delphi Corp., the parts maker spun off by GM in 1999. Sources familiar with the talks said the new contracts were similar to those reached with Ford and Chrysler, the U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG. The final phase of the talks appears to have focused on GM's future sourcing plans and Delphi's ultimate corporate strategy, sources suggested. The automakers have been seeking to close unprofitable facilities, and sources said Chrysler had agreed to shed seven U.S. factories to cut costs. Local union officials from DaimlerChrysler were to meet Thursday to get their first look at the proposed agreement. Top union officials met privately Wednesday with union representatives heavily impacted by the terms of the proposed agreement, which will permit Chrysler to unload several unproductive operations. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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