NEW YORK - General Motors appears increasingly unlikely to win the UAW's quick approval for Project Yellowstone, its plan to build small cars profitably in North America.
The automaker had hoped to wrap up Yellowstone negotiations in April. But GM President Rick Wagoner acknowledged last week that the union still fears the loss of jobs in GM assembly plants.
The April deadline 'is a little more suspect than when we were first looking at it,' Wagoner said. 'We are wide open to talk about alterations. As long as discussions are productive, we'll stay with it.'
Wagoner's remarks came in response to sharp criticism of Yellowstone by UAW President Steve Yokich. During the union's bargaining convention in Detroit on March 28, Yokich indicated that he wanted to prevent the erosion of hourly jobs at GM.
Although Yokich's tough comments might be a ploy to strengthen his bargaining position, it appears clear that GM faces difficult - and lengthy - negotiations.
Yellowstone-style assembly plants will employ about 2,000 hourly workers, a small work force compared to traditional plants. Suppliers would build and deliver large parts modules to the assembly plant, allowing GM to cut its work force.
GM had hoped to build at least two Yellowstone plants, in Lordstown, Ohio, and Lansing, Mich.