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A defining point for the auto industry

UAW workers on strike outside of GM Powertrain Plant

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: The United Auto Workers are expected to resume negotiating this morning. They walked out on General Motors yesterday in the first strike over a national contract in 37 years.

Let's bring in Micki Maynard. She covers the auto industry for the New York Times.
Micki, how long can this go on?

Micki Maynard: Well, considering what Ron Gettelfinger, the UAW president, said yesterday, that they felt there had been no movement in the talks, then that would suggest a strike of days or weeks.

Krizner: So we're hearing that the sticking point at this juncture is job security.

Maynard: That's right. I believe General Motors doesn't want to have its hands tied as it looks at the future, because frankly, they don't need to build cars for the United States any more. I think it would be a shock to many people to think that GM could supply the American market with vehicles built outside the United States. But General Motors may have that capability.

Krizner: So if this continues for some time, how damaging could it be to GM?

Maynard: Well, there's probably been some calculations done. Some of the Wall Street analysts are saying that they could go for about a month without being sufficiently damaged. After that, they start to burn cash.

Krizner: What's the most important thing for the listener to take away from any of this, Micki?

Maynard: I think what the listener has to understand is that we're at a time now, a defining moment in the automobile industry. The one weapon that the UAW has to make its point is a strike. And General Motors, in the past, has caved. We have to watch and see what they do now.

Krizner: Micki Maynard covers the auto industry for The New York Times. Micki, thanks so much for speaking with us.

Maynard: Sure, my pleasure.

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