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Published: Saturday, 6/16/2007

Dana, unions report progress in discussions

Dana Corp. and its unions yesterday reported significant progress in negotiations on a company proposal to modify labor contracts and curtail or drop retiree health benefits for former hourly workers.

The Toledo auto parts manufacturer, United Auto Workers, and United Steelworkers, in a joint letter, asked Judge Burton Lifland of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York for another two weeks to reach a voluntary settlement in a company proposal to cut $180 million in expenses annually through wage cuts, benefit changes, and elimination of the retiree benefits.

The company says it needs lower costs to successfully emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The two sides asked the judge to delay deciding until July 2. Dana has reached a deal to curtail health benefits for 7,500 salaried retirees.

The letter yesterday said company and union negotiators are engaged in around-the-clock discussions that have been very productive. The company proposals would affect thousands of hourly retirees and 5,200 of 19,000 current U.S. employees at plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., Elizabethtown, Ky., Auburn Hills, Mich., and Marion, Ind.

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