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GM Strike Talks Not Advancing, Negotiator Says

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The United Auto Workers’ chief negotiator in talks to end two devastating strikes against General Motors Corp. voiced pessimism Saturday about prospects for an agreement.

“We’re not any closer today than we were a couple of days ago,” Richard Shoemaker said. He criticized GM’s management for recent optimistic statements that a settlement could come this weekend.

“I don’t think there’s any prospect of getting it settled by Monday unless they step up to the table and very quickly say that they’re prepared to resolve the issues,” said Shoemaker, the UAW’s vice president in charge of GM relations.

GM spokeswoman Charlotte Grim said the company will stand by its earlier comments.

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“We’re going to work toward a settlement as soon as possible,” she said. “I guess there’s a difference between optimism and intensity. We’re going to continue talking with the same degree of intensity we have all along.”

GM’s losses from the walkout already are estimated at nearly $1.2 billion.

Talks resumed Saturday at the two strikebound parts plants in Flint, along with the Buick City complex there. The UAW wants outstanding disputes at Buick City settled along with those at the parts plants.

Gerald Knechtel, who heads GM’s labor relations, said talks were “not going as rapidly as we’d like to see” and that they would resume today.

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The Flint strikes by about 9,200 workers have idled about 162,000 other GM workers at 26 assembly plants and more than 100 parts plants throughout North America.

GM is insisting that any deal include resolution of problems under negotiation at two brake plants in Dayton, Ohio, and at a stamping plant in Indianapolis. The No. 1 auto maker wants assurance that it won’t face strikes at those plants after the Flint walkouts end.

Shoemaker, who raised the threat of strikes at Dayton and Indianapolis during the UAW convention late last month, said GM’s strategy of linking the talks in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan is “absolutely foolhardy.”


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