Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Judge extends Delphi's deadline

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Judge extends Delphi's deadline
Bankruptcy court gives supplier, in talks to address union labor issues, until Feb. 1 to file reorganization plan.
Detroit News staff and wire reports

NEW YORK -- A bankruptcy judge on Monday approved a motion by Delphi Corp. to extend the auto supplier's deadline to exclusively file its reorganization plan, before creditors can weigh in with alternate proposals.

The new deadline is Feb. 1, 2007, and the deadline for responses to the plan is April 2. Judge Robert Drain approved the extension, which is the company's second and moves the filing deadline from Aug. 5. The company reserved the right to file other extensions if needed.

Delphi asked for both extensions because the company says it cannot finalize a reorganization plan until its future labor costs are determined in ongoing negotiations with its unions.

While Delphi has hammered out deals to offer thousands of workers buyouts or early retirement, it still needs an over-arching wage and benefit deal with its six unions and General Motors Corp. to cover workers who will remain with the company.

Delphi plans to make "every effort" to reach such a deal before Aug. 11, when a hearing resumes on its controversial motion to reject labor contracts covering 33,000 U.S. hourly workers.

"We're working under the assumption that we can make a lot of progress" between now and then, Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams said Monday.

Such a deal could avert a crippling strike by the United Auto Workers that could ruin the supplier and tip GM, its former parent and top customer, into bankruptcy.

GM Chairman Rick Wagoner has said he hopes to have a deal completed by Labor Day.

Delphi planned to file a motion Monday to seek the court's approval of a new concessions deal with its second-largest union, the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America, said Delphi attorney John W. Butler.

The supplier announced over the weekend that it had reached an agreement with the IUE-CWA and GM to offer buyouts to hourly workers. The deal was similar to one reached earlier with the UAW, the largest union representing Delphi employees.

The judge said the matter would be considered in a June 29 meeting.

Under the plan, about 8,000 hourly workers represented by the IUE-CWA are eligible to participate. Some may be offered a lump sum payment of $35,000 to retire, Delphi said, while eligible employees may decide to accept buyout packages ranging from $40,000 to $140,000.

The plan also permits the transition of up to 3,200 Delphi workers represented by the IUE-CWA to GM for retirement purposes.

Also on Monday, the court set at $5 million the maximum value of creditors' claims Delphi can settle without court approval. Delphi's motion had asked the judge to set that at $20 million.

Representatives of the ad hoc creditors committee and the equity committee objected, saying the process needed greater transparency.


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