NEW YORK -- Delphi Corp. is confident it will receive bankruptcy court permission to throw out its labor contracts, the bankrupt auto parts maker's lead lawyer said on Friday.
"The company will at the end of the case receive authority from the bankruptcy court," Jack Butler said after a hearing before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain.
But Delphi's goal remains a reorganization that wins the approval of both former parent General Motors and its union workforce, Butler said.
"It's our hope we resolve this at the bargaining table and not in the courtroom," Butler said, adding that active negotiations were going on with six of Delphi's seven unions.
"The goal is to have a consensual transformation plan supported by both groups," he said. "We continue to work toward that goal. Every day we get up we ask ourselves what we can do to further the opportunity for a consensual deal."
Unions representing workers at Delphi will begin their argument on Monday to convince Drain that Delphi should have to keep its its labor contracts in place.
The United Auto Workers, which represents roughly 24,000 of the more than 33,000 U.S. hourly workers at Delphi, will call its first witness on Monday. The UAW and other unions are expected to call at least 20 witnesses in the hearing.
Delphi, which on Friday wrapped up its presentation of witness testimony in support of its request to toss out its labor contracts, expects to put on at least one rebuttal witness after the unions present their case opposing Delphi.
Unions have threatened to strike Delphi if the parts maker tosses out their contracts, a move that could quickly cripple production at GM and other automaker customers.
Delphi has argued it needs the authority to reject existing union contracts if its reorganization is to have any chance of success.
Drain is not expected to rule for several weeks on Delphi's request. The union and rebuttal witnesses will take up at least another five to 10 trial dates, Butler said.
A separate Delphi motion, asking the judge for permission to reject GM contracts, is scheduled to be tried in late June. Delphi and GM are deposing witnesses and exchanging documents in advance of that trial, Butler said.
Delphi, which was spun off by GM in 1999, filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2005.Delphi CEO Steve Miller has said the company must cut wages, benefits and jobs for hourly workers to reorganize its money-losing U.S. operations.