UAW members went on strike against General Motors Corp. today over failure to reach agreement on financing retiree health care and other issues.
We are disappointed in the UAW decision to call a national strike, Dan Flores, GM spokesman, said in a statement. The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect job security of the U.S. work force and long-term viability of the company. We are fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address competitive challenges facing General Motors. We continue to focus our effort to reaching an agreement.
Were shocked and disappointed that General Motors has failed to recognize and appreciate what our membership has contributed during the past four years, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement announcing the strike. Since 2003, our members have made extraordinary efforts every time the company came to us with a problem: the corporate restructuring, the attrition plan, the Delphi bankruptcy, the 2005 health-care agreement. In every case, our members went the extra mile to find reasonable solutions.
GM officials are willing to continue the bargaining talks, Mr. Flores added.
Mr. Flores would not comment on a reported proposal to limit contributions to retiree health care by setting up a voluntary employees beneficiary association trust run by the UAW to finance such benefits, or other details about the contract talks.
GM had $16.9 billion in non-pension retiree benefit assets, as of last Dec. 31, mainly for retiree health care, according to its latest 10-K. It also has $914 million in assets, also as of Dec. 31, in a VEBA set up in 2006 to mitigate a reduction in GM health care. Under a previous agreement with the UAW, GM will contribute $1 billion a year to that VEBA through 2011. General Motors had $119 billion in pension assets as of Sept. 30, according to Pensions & Investments data.