Monday, April 10, 2006

GM preps for possible walkout

Monday, April 10, 2006

GM preps for possible walkout (storylink)

Avoiding Delphi stoppage is a priority, but automaker is stockpiling parts just in case, Wagoner says in TV interview.

General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner said Sunday he doesn't expect a strike at bankrupt parts maker Delphi Corp. but acknowledged the automaker is preparing for the possibility.

In a television interview Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation," Wagoner was asked if GM is stockpiling parts or taking other actions to prepare for a possible strike. Wagoner said "we're doing some of that," though "that is not going to really avoid the issue."

Delphi CEO Steve Miller last month asked a judge to void UAW contracts as part of a plan to exit bankruptcy. The United Auto Workers has threatened to strike if Delphi imposes terms such as wage cuts. Wagoner said that avoiding a long strike at Delphi is the highest priority for his company, which lost $10.6 billion last year.
"A long-term strike at Delphi would have huge ramifications for General Motors," other manufacturers, the unions and Delphi, he said. "Shame on us, the leaders of all those groups, if we can't come to a solution that avoids that kind of drastic action."

Last week, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Brian Johnson told Bloomberg News that GM appears to be stockpiling parts. Johnson cited Delphi Chief Restructuring Officer John Sheehan, who said last month that some customers were stockpiling parts and the supplier's revenue from GM has risen in recent months.

Wagoner also reiterated Sunday that seeking bankruptcy protection or a government bailout wouldn't be good options for the company.

"Those approaches are not the right approaches for GM," he said. "They aren't good for our consumers, they aren't good for the people that count on us for our contributions to the economy, they're not the right thing for our business."

GM, the world's largest automaker, plans to eliminate at least 30,000 U.S. factory jobs by 2008 and has offered its 113,000 union workers buyout or retirement packages, part of an agreement among GM, the United Auto Workers and Delphi Corp., the bankrupt auto-parts supplier that used to be part of GM.

GM's troubles helped push Delphi into bankruptcy in October. Delphi is trying to shed 20,000 union jobs.

Wagoner, 53, said he has no plans to resign.

"I wouldn't be in this job if I didn't think I was the right guy to do it," he said.
Wagoner recently received a vote of confidence from his board of directors and a group of major GM dealers. The moves came after news reports surfaced that the board was growing impatient with Wagoner's progress in turning around the automaker.

GM expects about 45 percent of employees already eligible to retire and 9 percent of the workers within three years of retirement to take buyouts at the nine locations slated for closing, according to a March 28 regulatory filing.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.


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