The ostensible drop-dead date for a new labor contract between Delphi and the UAW -- March 31 -- has come and gone without a strike.
Delphi has asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain to void its contracts, and he says he'll think about it. So when can we expect a deal?
Insiders say June 15 is the real deadline, and they have a sense of urgency about it. That's when Dick Shoemaker will step down as vice president in charge of the UAW's GM department.
Shoemaker, a soft-spoken man who is highly regarded for his savvy and negotiating skills, is handling the union's talks with Delphi.
He will hand the reins to a successor at the union's convention in Las Vegas on June 11-14. The new GM department head will need time to get up to speed and organize his staff. And time is a luxury Delphi does not possess.
"It would be hard to walk into that job," says a source familiar with the UAW's thinking. "There would be a learning curve. Shoemaker doesn't want to leave this mess for someone else."
Perhaps even more important, the incoming UAW vice president would not possess the political capital necessary to sell big pay cuts to the membership.
One might logically ask whether the Bankruptcy Court would dictate a settlement that otherwise would be beyond the UAW's power to accept. That doesn't seem likely. Typically, a bankruptcy judge slow-walks a proposal to void a labor contract to give the company and union more time to work something out.