GM ends top-level strike talks
Talks at Flint parts plants to continue
In this story:
Web posted at: 7:53 p.m. EDT (2353 GMT)
FLINT, Michigan (CNN) -- Top-level talks between General Motors and the United Auto Workers have ended, and GM's top negotiator has left Flint in a setback to the settlement efforts.
Plant-level talks will continue, but both sides said they were disappointed by Sunday's developments.
"I was optimistic, publicly, on Thursday, and I had every reason to be because there is no reason why we have not achieved, could not achieve, settlement of these disputes by today," said GM vice president Gerald Knechtel. "But we haven't and we won't."
Knechtel left Flint and returned to his office in Detroit. He said last week that he was optimistic that the strikes could be settled this weekend.
Richard Shoemaker, the UAW's chief negotiator, said the union is prepared to continue negotiations. He reiterated that he didn't share General Motor's optimism about ending the strike this weekend.
Talks end for 'bad reasons'
Knechtel said the high-level talks ended due to demands by the UAW for GM to invest in the Flint Metal Center stamping plant, which is one of GM's least efficient plants.
"We are very disappointed, given the devastating impact that this work stoppage has on our people and on the company -- and it's for bad reasons," he said. "It's for reasons involving demands to put investment into a non-competitive business. And the company is not going to do that."
But Shoemaker said the metal plant is key to the settlement of the entire strike.
"I think that if we could settle the issues at (Flint Metals Center) that it would go a long ways toward providing momentum to reach settlements at other places," he said. "I don't agree it's the local union that is holding up progress."
GM pursuing other avenues to end strike
Knechtel said the automaker is going to pursue other avenues to end the strike. General Motors has filed a grievance claiming that the strikes are illegal and violate the national contract GM has with the union.
"We going to pursue these and many other avenues to bring a conclusion to these work stoppages, and we're going to turn our attention to those avenues immediately," he said, declining to give details.
Shoemaker said GM has the wherewithal to settle the strike now.
"I think it's unfortunate that they've decided to look at other options that are available to them, but of course everybody has the right to do those things," Shoemaker said.
Knechtel said the company was going "to intensify our scrutiny" of ways it can conserve money, including taking a closer look at planned capital investments. GM has hinted before that the strikes may force it to move up plans to eliminate slow-selling vehicle lines and close some plants.
Other strikes on the way?
Also on Sunday, workers at a GM plant in Indianapolis were voting on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike, if necessary, at a stamping plant where GM and UAW are in the midst of a dispute.
The UAW has said it may call strikes at Indianapolis and at two brake plants in Dayton, Ohio, once the Flint strikes are settled.
Dayton workers already have authorized a strike. GM has insisted that the disputes at those plants be resolved as part of any deal to settle Flint.
GM plants were to start manufacturing 1999 model vehicles on Monday after the annual two-week summer shutdown.
The company has racked up losses totaling more than $1.2 billion since the strikes began June 5 at two GM plants in Flint.
Parts shortages caused by the Flint walkouts have forced GM to shut down 26 of its 29 major assembly plants in North America.
About 9,200 workers are on strike and about 162,000 other GM workers have been idled.
Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.