During an hourlong interview last week with Automotive News, Gettelfinger toned down his criticism of Delphi after the company's Monday, Dec. 19, announcement that it would not publicly discuss its negotiations with GM and the union.
Delphi had asked the UAW to accept wage cuts approaching 60 percent. It also wants GM to offer early retirement buyouts to Delphi's hourly workers. The supplier's calls for deep wage cuts sparked unrest among hourly workers.
Some militant union members have organized a group called Soldiers of Solidarity to oppose major concessions. Those organizers have told workers how to conduct work slowdowns or even a strike. But Gettelfinger says he is confident the UAW can avoid internal splits.
"We have asked our members to come to work, to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay, and to make a quality product," Gettelfinger said.
But Gettelfinger declined to confirm reports that UAW officials in some factories were collecting union grievances. The UAW's contract allows it to conduct strikes at individual plants over health and safety violations.
A walkout at key plants could quickly shut down Delphi's biggest customer, GM.
Gettelfinger reiterated his previous threat to strike if the bankruptcy court grants a Delphi request to void its labor contract. Miller originally set a December deadline for such a request if negotiations collapsed. He now has pushed that deadline to February.
But Gettelfinger declined to comment on the likelihood of various tactics such as work slowdowns or plant-specific strikes. "We are keeping all our options open," he said.
On other subjects, the union chief said he would: Fight any move in bankruptcy court by Delphi if it seeks a $500 million payout to 600 top executives. Delphi wants to reward executives who stay with the company. Oppose major changes to the so-called Jobs Bank, which requires GM, Ford and Chrysler to pay laid-off workers. Reject a two-tier pay scale for workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler. Last year, the UAW accepted lower wages for newly hired employees at Visteon and Delphi. Expects to see Ford's restructuring plan three or four days before it is made public. An announcement is expected in January. So far, Ford has only had brief discussions with the UAW about the plan.
Gettelfinger says he doesn't know which assembly plants will close. "It's their call to make, and it's ours to argue about," he said.
"There's a chance for us to influence the plan after they make their announcement."
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