The United Auto Workers union expects a crucial round of restructuring
talks with General Motors Corp to intensify this coming week ahead of
an end-of-May deadline set by the Obama administration.
In an e-mail message sent
to rank-and-file workers, the union also repeated its opposition to
GM's plans to close 16 U.S. manufacturing plants and cut about 21,000
jobs while also planning to increase vehicle imports from GM plants in
lower-wage economies such as Mexico, South Korea and China.
UAW is actively involved in these complex negotiations, which involve
the Obama auto task force, GM management, bondholders and secured
lenders, dealers, parts suppliers and other stakeholders, the union
said in the message. These negotiations will have a major impact on
wages, benefits and jobs for active and retired UAW members.
We are expecting the restructuring negotiations to intensify this coming week,
unusual email message to UAW-represented workers comes as UAW President
Ron Gettelfinger and GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson are both due in
Washington on Monday for talks with U.S. officials.
discussions have a growing urgency because GM faces a deadline to
restructure its debt, including healthcare-related obligations to the
UAW, by the end of the month ahead of a bankruptcy filing that the
automaker says is now probable.
GM has a $1 billion bond payment
due June 1 and must complete debt restructuring talks by then or file
for bankruptcy, executives have said.
GM has been kept in
operation since the start of the year with more than $15 billion in
federal loans and would be majority owned by the U.S. government under
the terms of the reorganization it has proposed to the Obama
In its email message to members sent late Sunday,
UAW leadership urged auto workers and retirees to write to President
Barack Obama and ask him to dictate job-saving changes to GM's
The union campaigned for Obama during last
year's election, and the White House-appointed autos task force being
steered by former investment banker Steve Rattner has shown special
consideration for the union's position in the reorganization of GM's
smaller rival, Chrysler LLC.
GM needs to win concessionary agreements from the UAW to reduce
factory operating costs and to halve the debt owed to a trust fund
aligned with the union in order to match deals already approved for
UAW-represented workers at Chrysler and Ford Motor Co.
exchange for foregoing about $10 billion in cash payments owed to the
UAW's health-care trust, GM has proposed giving the union a 39-percent
stake in the reorganized company.
But the UAW has stepped up its
opposition to GM's plans for operating its restructured business over
the past several weeks and has tried to enlist Democratic lawmakers to
put pressure on the administration to force changes.
element of the automaker's restructuring plan that has attracted
criticism from the union, GM has said it would look to import smaller
vehicles built in joint-venture factories it operates in China to the
Chrysler, by contrast, has pledged to build a new
small car in a U.S. plant. The No. 3 U.S. automaker, which like GM is
shedding costs and dealers, plans to emerge from bankruptcy under the
management control of Italy's Fiat SpA.
We need President Obama
and his auto task force to stand up for the interests of American
workers and retirees in the restructuring negotiations, the UAW said
in its email message.
Tell him to insist that GM must change its
restructuring plan. If GM is going to receive government assistance to
facilitate its restructuring, along with the tremendous sacrifices by
UAW active and retired members, it should be required to maintain the
maximum number of jobs in the U.S. instead of outsourcing more
production to foreign countries, the message said.