Saturday, June 10, 2006

Delphi says contract talks are progressing

Delphi says contract talks are progressing
By John Nolan

Staff Writer

DAYTON Delphi Corp. is putting bankruptcy court hearings on the back burner for the moment as the company is making what it describes as progress in talks with its unions and General Motors Corp.

The talks reportedly include extending offers of lump-sum buyouts and early retirement incentives to additional Delphi union employees to reduce the work force.

Delphi on Thursday obtained a federal bankruptcy judge's approval in New York to postpone a scheduled hearing today on the auto parts company's request for court permission to cancel its contracts with hourly labor unions. Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams said he had no information on whether the hearing had been moved to a new date.

A hearing on Monday of this week had already been delayed because of reported progress in the talks between Delphi, its unions and GM. GM is involved because it used to own Delphi, remains its biggest customer for auto parts and has guaranteed the retirement benefits of workers who moved from GM to Delphi when it became an independent company in 1999.

Delphi, GM and the United Auto Workers reached agreement in March on a deal to allow GM to get started on its goal of reducing its hourly work force by 30,000 workers by 2008 and to help Delphi reduce its hourly labor costs. That deal makes about 113,000 GM workers eligible for early retirement incentives or buyouts of $35,000 to $140,000, depending on how long they were employed and whether they want to keep their long-term benefits. About 13,000 Delphi workers also became eligible for a payment of $35,000 to retire, with GM funding all of the incentives.

Now, Delphi, GM and the unions are discussing expanding eligibility for these buyouts and incentives, and extending the offers to other Delphi unions.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, reported on Thursday that a deal could be announced as early as next week to offer thousands of Delphi workers lump-sum payments of $70,000 to $140,000 if they will leave the company and their health-care benefits behind. Delphi and GM declined to comment on that report.

Separately, Delphi also asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York for an extension until Feb. 1, 2007, from the current deadline of Aug. 5, of the company's exclusive right to file a plan for emerging from court-supervised bankruptcy reorganization. Creditors and others would then be allowed to comment on the plan and submit their own versions before the court would rule.

Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain is scheduled to hear Delphi's extension request June 16.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2242 or


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