Monday, February 16, 2009

Chrysler and GM, UAW again seek concessions deal

General Motors Corp., facing a Tuesday deadline to present a long-term viability plan, resumed negotiations with the UAW on Sunday afternoon after talks broke down Friday, the Free Press has learned.

The Detroit automaker is trying to get concessions from the UAW and debt holders as required under the terms of the $13.4-billion loan package approved by the U.S. Treasury Department in December. The deal calls on GM to get the stakeholders to voluntarily reduce the debt GM owes them. But the talks have been difficult, as the various stakeholders vie for a better deal, which would likely mean less favorable conditions for another party.

"This is probably going to go right down to the wire," a person briefed on the efforts said. The person did not want to be named because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

Talks between GM and the UAW broke down Friday when the UAW walked out, the source said. On Saturday, the union said it was rejecting the proposals from GM and Chrysler LLC, saying they were unfair to workers and favored bondholders.

Officials from the UAW and GM began talking again Sunday afternoon, though it was not clear at what level, the person said.

GM declined to comment Sunday, and a UAW spokesperson didn't respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, talks between the UAW and Chrysler also continue, the company said in a statement. "The company is working diligently on its viability plan and will submit it by its deadline on Feb. 17," Chrysler said.

Despite the back-and-forth between various stakeholders, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said during NBC's "Meet the Press" that GM and Chrysler's restructuring would require sacrifice from workers, executives and others.

He sidestepped questions about whether the industry could withstand a bankruptcy at GM. A person familiar with GM's negotiations with bondholders told the Free Press last week that bankruptcy remained a "very real risk."

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that GM will present two alternatives to the government Tuesday: one calling for billions more in rescue money, and the other calling for financial assistance as part of a bankruptcy filing....More

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