No breakthrough in GM, UAW talks
Negotiations set to resume SundayJune 20, 1998
Web posted at: 7:52 p.m. EDT (2352 GMT)
FLINT, Michigan (CNN) -- Talks to end strikes at two General Motors' parts plants, which have idled most production by the largest American automaker, ended Saturday with little progress reported.
A United Auto Workers union representative told CNN that the talks went "very slow" with "not much progress." Negotiators were scheduled to resume their discussions Sunday.
About 9,200 workers have gone on strike at two parts plants in Flint, which supply key ingredients for production at other GM plants in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
A lack of parts has forced the company to shut down 23 assembly plants and 91 other facilities, laying off more than 105,000 workers. Only five GM plants were still assembling vehicles Friday.
A L S O :
Strike hurts more than GM
GM is now producing at less than 10 percent of its capacity, and company officials say they are losing about $60 million a day in pre-tax profits because of the strikes.
If no settlement can be reached Sunday, some observers say GM may decide to shut down its remaining assembly lines on Monday. Negotiations could be hampered by the union's convention, held once every three years, which begins this upcoming week in Las Vegas, and GM's annual two-week summer shutdown, scheduled to start June 29.
Job shifting, work rules at issue
The UAW members walked off their jobs to protest plans by GM to send some work outside of the United States to plants where labor is cheaper. Work rules and health and safety concerns are also issues in the strike.
In a speech Friday, General Motors Chairman Jack Smith said that "nothing is more important" to his company than settling the Flint strikes, which he said have "hurt our employees, their families, customers, suppliers and shareholders."
While saying that GM was committed to reaching a settlement as quickly as possible, Smith also made it clear that GM is committed to taking whatever steps it deems necessary to make the company more efficient and better able to respond to a rapidly changing global marketplace.
"While every organization needs to preserve the appropriate aspects of its past, change is inevitable and unavoidable, even here in Flint," he said.
At stake for GM in the strike is a drive for enhanced productivity. Chrysler Corp. is Detroit's most efficient producer, and Ford Motor Co. in recent years has slashed costs.
"I think GM has finally decided it had to draw a line in the sand and said it has to have flexibility in running its factories and reducing costs," says Wall Street analyst Maryanne Keller, who has written two books about GM.
Clinton urges swift resolution of strike
On Friday, President Clinton urged both sides to resolve the strike as quickly as possible but for the time being ruled out any federal intervention.
"They have, apparently, very legitimate and substantial differences, but we've got a collective bargaining system, which I support, and I think they can work it out. And I hope they do it in a timely fashion," Clinton said.
Some economists fear that the shutdown of an industrial titan such as GM and the layoff of so many workers could slow the growth of the entire U.S. economy, compounding the blow from Asia's economic crisis.
Workers idled by a strike are ineligible for supplemental income from GM, which means that they will instead file for unemployment benefits. The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment filed for the week ending June 13 jumped by 13,000, the first noticeable effect from the strikes.
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