DETROIT -- UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said Wednesday that the union has had no discussions with Delphi Corp., and he questioned how Delphi CEO Steve Miller could be optimistic about reaching an accord with its unions by the first quarter of 2006.
Gettelfinger blistered Miller over Miller's statements that the risk of a union strike against Delphi had diminished. The statements appeared Tuesday in a story on autonews.com, Automotive News' Web site.
Gettelfinger was asked about Delphi during a press conference announcing the terms of health care concessions that the UAW has negotiated with Ford Motor Co. Those concessions are expected to save the company about $850 million.
The concessions, which include a Ford pledge to spend a total of $900 million over the next five years on new products and technology, are similar to those the union negotiated with General Motors. The new Ford agreement requires approval by the rank-and-file and the courts. Rank-and-file voting for the ratification was expected to be completed by Thursday, Dec. 22.
Gettelfinger said he had no idea where Miller was getting his optimism that labor agreements with Delphi's six unions were in the making. He called "obscene" the latest Delphi proposal to the UAW that would slash wages from an average of $27 an hour for production workers to $12.50 an hour.
Delphi, which put its U.S. operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on Oct. 8, has said it can no longer compete with foreign suppliers if it continues to pay current wage and benefit levels to its 34,000 hourly workers in the United States. Of those, about 25,000 are represented by the UAW.
The two sides have not met on the matter, and no meetings are scheduled, Gettelfinger said.
Gettelfinger also told reporters after the press conference that there have been no serious UAW negotiations with GM about Delphi. GM, Delphi's former parent company and largest customer is widely viewed as holding the keys to a solution to the Delphi-UAW labor cost conflict.
Miller made his comments to Automotive News while traveling in Asia, a fact that prompted Gettelfinger to sarcastically ask whom he could be talking to in Asia for insight into Delphi union negotiations.
"We're very frustrated with that situation. And I'm going to tell you, we are a responsible union, and we've helped many companies along the way," Gettelfinger said. "But we don't get along with dictatorships very well. And you can't dictate the terms of an agreement and tell us this is the way it's going to be."
Gettelfinger added that the UAW met with the Delphi board in 2003 and agreed to allow the company (and its competitor Visteon Corp.) to start a lower two-tiered wage structure for new hires in the current contract.
"Now they want a second bite from the same apple," he said.
Delphi spokeswoman Claudia Piccinin said her company has not been able to confirm Miller's comments. She said the company continues to work toward a negotiated agreement, which would be in the best interest of Delphi, its workers and its customers.
Miller has threatened to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain to terminate its labor contracts if it cannot reach a negotiated agreement by Jan. 20.
Delphi ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with estimated worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $24.10 billion in 2004.
You may e-mail Dave Barkholz at [email protected]