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UAW Head Willing to Re-Open Contract with Big Three

Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, testifying before the House Financial Services committee along with the heads of Detroit's Big Three automakers, said his union is prepared to re-negotiate its 2007 contract with GM, Ford and Chrysler -- with stipulations.

"We are willing to go back to the bargaining table provided everyone else is at the table, as well," Gettelfinger said, mentioning parts suppliers, dealers, equity-holders, creditors and all other parties involved in the auto industry.

This marks a significant reversal from the UAW's long-held opposition to re-opening a settled contract.

Earlier this week, Gettelfinger said his union would favor tweaking the contract, such as allowing automakers to defer benefit payments and so on, but steadfastly rejected actually coming back to the table and re-open the contract.

That evidently has changed.

Automakers have been saying for months: If we can just get to January 2010, significant union concessions will kick in, allowing us to remove thousands of dollars from the cost of producing every new car, enabling GM, Ford and Chrysler to be more price-competitive with foreign automakers.

But the Big Three and the UAW have taken increasing heat in recent weeks for lobbying the government for billions in loans to get them to January 2010 while refusing to actually re-open the contract and allow those cost-savings to kick in earlier.

-- Frank Ahrens
The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  December 5, 2008; 11:07 AM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Chrysler, Ford, GM, General Motors, UAW  
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