You now have to figure that Delphi and the UAW will be able to resolve the wage issue, and that the whole thing will come together without the need for a crippling strike.
It might even have ramifications for U.S. automakers during contract negotiations in 2007, if not before.
GM, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group would love to cut labor costs in North America as they look for ways to restructure their operations.
That will be a tall order if rhetoric overrules reason.
But there is hope. In Germany, Ford hammered out a win-win deal with labor that raises productivity and gives workers job security.
Here's what worked for Ford of Germany: Workers agreed to work 40 hours a week instead of the traditional 35 and to do without pay raises for the near term. In exchange, the company agreed not to move work out of German factories, thereby avoiding the need for operational layoffs. It doesn't look like there'll be a lot of buyouts either.
We're more than a year away from labor talks in Detroit, but the GM/Delphi/UAW agreement and Ford's experience in Germany suggest the possibility of real compromise.
Labor relations aren't supposed to be a zero-sum game.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]