General Motors Corp. has asked a federal bankruptcy judge in New York to postpone a hearing on Delphi Corp.’s request for permission to void its labor contracts, saying that would allow more time to avoid a disruptive strike at the auto parts maker.
Delphi was part of GM until 1999 and annually sells about $14 billion in car and truck components to the automaker.
The case is before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain, who had scheduled a hearing Wednesday. Troy-based Delphi has 33,000 hourly workers, most represented by the United Auto Workers.
In a letter to Drain on Tuesday, GM asked for an adjournment of up to 60 days during which talks would continue among Delphi, GM and the unions.
“This will allow all parties to focus all of their time and energies on reaching an agreement,” GM spokesman Jerry Dubrowski told the Detroit Free Press.
“I’d rather see it done at the bargaining table than seeing a judge making a decision,” UAW Local 292 chairman George Anthony told The Detroit News. The local represents workers at a Kokomo, Ind., Delphi plant.
But Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams said the parts maker opposes the adjournment request. Delphi already has delayed the motion to void the contract twice with no results, and there has been no counteroffer from the UAW, Williams said Wednesday.
Delphi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. It is seeking the right to cancel its contracts with the UAW and other unions, saying that is a crucial step in its efforts to cut its costs and ensure its survival. UAW members overwhelmingly authorized their leaders to call a strike.
Delphi has proposed cutting its workers’ wages from $27 an hour to $16.50 an hour. That proposal, however, would require a large contribution from GM.
But GM has not agreed to supplement Delphi workers’ wages. Without such a contribution, Delphi is only prepared to pay its workers $12.50 an hour. The UAW has rejected that offer.
Delphi also wants to close or sell 21 of its 29 U.S. plants.