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Published: Friday, 9/21/2007

GM-UAW talks resolve all noneconomic issues


DETROIT - Negotiators for General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers have resolved all noneconomic issues and are discussing GM's proposal to pay the union to form a trust and take over the company's huge retiree health care obligation, people briefed on the talks said yesterday.

GM has been picked by the union as the lead company and potential strike target in this year's bargaining.

The negotiations will immediately affect 3,600 GM workers in Toledo and Defiance. The firm has a factory in Toledo that makes transmissions for rear-wheel-drive vehicles transmissions, and it has a foundry in Defiance.

The terms of an agreementultimately would be taken to Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. In northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, Ford has about 1,800 employees and Chrysler at least 1,400. About 3,400 Chrysler employees at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex are covered by a separate contracts, but some typically receive the wages and benefits negotiated nationally.

The Detroit three automakers are trying to cut what they say is about a $25-an-hour labor-cost gap with their Japanese competitors.

GM has about $51 billion in unfunded retiree health care liabilities, and analysts have said it wants to pay the union about 65 percent of the cost to form the trust.

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