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GM, UAW talk through holiday trying to settle strikes

July 4, 1998
Web posted at: 7:29 p.m. EDT (2329 GMT)
UAW strikers  

FLINT, Michigan (CNN) -- Negotiators from General Motors and the United Auto Workers worked through the July Fourth holiday, trying to resolve strikes at two parts plants in Flint that have shut down much of the nation's largest automaker.

Talks aimed at ending the walkouts by 9,200 workers resumed Saturday morning and lasted until late afternoon. Negotiations were scheduled to resume Sunday morning, and Pete Ternes, a spokesman for the company, said both sides were prepared to negotiate all weekend.

There has been no reported progress.

The strikes began in early June, when union workers walked out over issues that include health and safety concerns, subcontracting jobs overseas and production quotas.

Without the parts produced in Flint, GM has been forced to idle 26 of its 29 assembly plants in North America and lay off nearly 163,000 workers. The strikes are the longest at GM since a 67-day walkout in 1970.

Even if the disputes in Flint are settled, union workers at two brake plants in Dayton, Ohio, have voted overwhelmingly to authorize their own strikes, which could leave the company paralyzed.

The shutdown of GM's production capacity is threatening to slow GM sales to second place in July, behind Ford, because GM dealers are running out of inventory. The company has also been forced to suspend scheduled shipments to some rental car companies, according to a report in the Detroit News.

The current strike may prompt GM to accelerate plans to eliminate some of its slower-selling models. The company already fields twice as many models as either Ford or Chrysler, which some analysts say makes it hard for GM to create customer loyalty.

Detroit Bureau Chief Ed Garsten contributed to this report.

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