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GM pushes auto union for healthcare cost cuts

General Motors Corp. wants auto workers to agree cuts in its $5.6 billion annual U.S. health-care costs in the next few days, or GM could cut them unilaterally, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
/ Source: Reuters

General Motors Corp. wants auto workers to agree cuts in its $5.6 billion annual U.S. health-care costs in the next few days, or GM could cut them unilaterally, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

United Auto Workers Vice President Richard Shoemaker, the union’s top negotiator at GM, said in an interview Thursday that the union and GM are continuing talks over health-care costs and related issues. Shoemaker declined to discuss details of the talks or any deadlines, but said both sides acknowledged that talks must be concluded soon, the paper said.

GM officials wouldn’t discuss details of the company’s proposals, the paper said.

Union officials have said GM management is seeking cuts of $1 billion a year and changes in retiree plans that could slash $20 billion from GM’s retiree health-care obligations. GM could argue it isn’t obliged by the contract to provide the same benefits to retirees as to active workers, the paper said.

GM is expected by analysts to announce a third-quarter loss on Monday. The people familiar with the company’s plans said the announcement could be accompanied by disclosure of details for cost-cutting plans, the WSJ reported.