UAW, GM, Delphi reach tentative contract agreements; Ford, Chrysler settled earlier this week

Thursday, September 18th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ The United Auto Workers said Thursday it reached a tentative contract agreement with General Motors, the last of the Big Three automakers to wrap up a deal.

A tentative deal also was reached with automotive supplier Delphi Corp. The agreements were announced more than three days after labor pacts expired.

The UAW earlier this week reached tentative agreements with Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group and supplier Visteon Corp.

``In the last five days we have successfully concluded negotiations with five of the largest manufacturers in the world,'' UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said. ``That's five for five.''

The two sides had negotiated ``late into the night'' Wednesday, GM spokesman Tom Wickham said.

GM, the world's largest automaker, has 115,000 active UAW workers and another 340,000 retirees and spouses. Delphi has 30,000 UAW workers.

Employees have reported for work as usual throughout negotiations.

``The agreement ... will allow us to work together to address what is clearly a challening set of competitors,'' GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner said.

Gettelfinger had said when the Chrysler deal was announced early Monday that the contract with the No. 3 U.S. automaker would serve as a model for the others.

The UAW, Ford and DaimlerChrysler have declined to discuss specifics of their proposed four-year contracts, but two sources familiar with the deals say they include a $3,000 signing bonus, a lump-sum payment in the second year and wage increases between 2 percent and 3 percent in the third and fourth years.

The union also managed to avoid any radical changes to its low-cost health care insurance program, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Delphi was spun off from GM in 1999, and the automaker remains its biggest customer. The union has said it would like for GM to continue buying parts from Delphi as opposed to nonunion suppliers. At the same time, GM is under intense pressure to lower operating costs.

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