Delphi Exec Says Union Ready To Negotiate With U.S. Automakers

Fresh out of negotiations with the United Auto Workers on a potential deal to help his company emerge from bankruptcy protection, the chairman of auto parts supplier Delphi Corp. said Jan. 17 that the union has recognized the changing face of the U.S. auto industry.

And it is likely the UAW will be willing to negotiate concessions with domestic auto makers when the current contracts expire in September 2007, Steve Miller said. "I am confident resolutions will be found, since all sides recognize that the status quo is not an option," Miller told an industry trade conference in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. "The three companies and the unions have capable, experienced and realistic leadership that will find a way through this mess."

Delphi, which was spun off from General Motors in 1999, filed for bankruptcy in October after the parts supplier crumbled under the weight of high costs and lower production volume from GM. It has come under increasing pressure from the UAW after Miller tried to cut salaries by 62% and threatened to default on Delphi's pension obligations. GM has said it could be liable for up to $11 billion should it be held responsible for Delphi's defaulted pensions. The automaker would also suffer enormous financial losses should a strike at its largest parts supplier interrupt production.

Miller also reiterated Jan. 16 that Delphi does not plan to seek emergency relief from its labor contracts in the bankruptcy process, saying discussions are continuing with GM and three of its labor unions, the UAW, IUE and Steelworkers. "Our committed objective is to arrive at a consensual resolution to our problem without having to unilaterally impose changes to the labor contract," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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