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Great news this morning! The Enclave's are moving again. From the Lansing State Journal:

Published September 26, 2007
[ From LSJ.com ]

UAW, GM agree to tentative contract
By KATIE MERX, TIM HIGGINS, SARAH WEBSTER and JOE GUY COLLIER
Special to the Lansing State Journal


The UAW and General Motors Corp. this morning reached a tentative agreement on a new contract for autoworkers, ending the union's first nationwide strike in 31 years.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger announced the agreement at a 4 a.m. news conference at the union's national headquarters in Detroit.

He said the agreement included a historic plan to shift oversight of retiree health-care benefits to the UAW, removing more than $50 billion in long-term obligations from GM's books.

The company had sought such a plan, called a voluntary employee beneficiary association, or VEBA, to help lower its fixed costs and make it more competitive with rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp., which does not have such so-called legacy costs. The costs are said to add more than $1,000 to the cost of each vehicle made by domestic companies.

It wasn't known how much money GM would put into the VEBA up front, but Gettelfinger said projections showed that it would be solvent for at least 80 years.

"There's no question this was one of the most complex and difficult bargaining sessions in the history of the GM/UAW relationship," Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The GM statement said the deal paves the way for GM to significantly improve its competitiveness. "This agreement helps us close the fundamental competitive gaps that exist in our business," Wagoner said. "The projected competitive improvements in this agreement will allow us to maintain a strong manufacturing presence in the United States along with significant future investments."

The UAW struck GM plants across the United States at 11 a.m. Monday after nine days of talks following the previous contract's expiration on Sept. 14. Gettelfinger said workers would return to production lines this morning.

Outside the Romulus engine plant, about 10 workers picketing at one gate were happy to hear the news on the radio.

“It sounds good that this might be over with. We’re happy with that,” said Matt Cauley, 46, of Saline, a 28-year GM employee.

The workers said they believe the strike worked in their favor and showed the company how much they valued their jobs. Retirement benefits and job security were issues they hoped to learn more about in the new contract.

The impact of the strike, which involves 73,000 GM workers, began to ripple across the auto industry Tuesday with some Canadian GM plants idling, auto dealers missing service parts and suppliers laying off workers.

The workers said they believe the strike worked in their favor and showed the company how much they valued their jobs. Retirement benefits and job security were issues they hoped to learn more about in the new contract.

“I want to see the details,” said Steven Cichone, who had just finished a shift picketing at GM's Hamtramck assembly plant when the deal was announced. The 10-year GM employee said he would be pretty happy as long as there’s no pay cut.

People familiar with the talks said the two sides Tuesday discussed health care for active workers; a two-tier wage system in which those who do non-production work would be compensated at a lower level, and tapping into GM's overfunded pension fund, an idea analysts have said might make UAW members more receptive to the creation of a health care trust fund.

The UAW began talks in July with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. The union on Sept. 13 designated GM as the lead company for talks -- or the strike target -- and extended contracts with Ford and Chrysler indefinitely.

The deal with GM is expected to set a pattern for the other two companies. Gettelfinger said the union had not decided whether to negotiate with Ford or Chrysler next.
 
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