DETROIT -- The United Auto Workers may be willing to help General Motors on health care costs, but reopening the contract is out of the question, UAW officials told members Thursday.
During a two-hour meeting in Detroit UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker told more than 100 union chairpersons and plant-floor presidents there are some concessions that can be made on health care, which was the main topic of discussion during the meeting union officials said.
But wholesale changes to the contract are out of the question.
"He told management (the contract) wont be reopened," said Linda Blaine-Motter of UAW Local 909 in Warren, Mich.
Shoemaker met with GM and Delphi Corp. representatives from across the country two days after GM CEO Rick Wagoner told shareholders the company needs to close plants and eliminate 25,000 manufacturing jobs by 2008.
The topic of plant closings did not come up at the meeting, union officials said.
Health care was the primary agenda.
Although no specific health-care proposals were outlined Thursday, recently the UAW has indicated it has been willing to work with GM to reduce heath-care costs.
GM expects health-care costs to rise to $5 billion this year.
There is a precedent for health-care concessions. The UAW and the Chrysler group recently negotiated a new health-care pact without reopening their contract. The agreement requires about 35,000 Chrysler hourly workers and retirees to start paying deductibles of between $100 and $1,000 for certain health care procedures.
Wagoner said this week GM will pay more than $1,500 per vehicle in health-care costs this year.
UAW hourly workers pay 7 percent of their total health-care costs. Salaried employees pay 27 percent, GM says.
GMs current contract with the UAW expires in September 2007.
Reuters contributed to this report
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