Union Picks GM as Target in Contract Negotiations

Article excerpt

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union Tuesday picked the biggest of the Big Three automakers as its target company in contract negotiations covering 450,000 active auto workers.

UAW President Owen Bieber said General Motors Corp., which employs 300,000 of the active hourly workers affected by the three national contracts, would be the target company.

GM employs more than 5,000 at its auto assembly plant in Oklahoma City.

``We were here to choose a target company at which we can achieve a pattern agreement for 1990,'' Bieber said.

Bieber declined to talk about pecifics that led to the selection of GM and refused to talk about strategies the union may pursue with just 18 days left in the current agreement.

Talks at Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp. will be put on hold while the UAW tries to work out a three-year agreement with GM that then would be used as a pattern for talks at No. 2 Ford and No. 3 Chrysler.

National contracts with the Big Three expire Sept. 14. raising pressure on negotiators to reach an agreement quickly to avoid laying the groundwork for a possible strike.

The contracts cover issues common to all unionized autoworkers, such as wages and benefits. Local contracts, many of which are being negotiated now, cover issues such as local work rules and seniority rights.

Chief negotiators for each company have said they want to be the national bargaining target because it gives the automaker a chance to negotiate an agreement more tailored to its needs.

GM and Ford negotiated their current agreements with the UAW in 1987, when Ford was chosen as a target. …