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Time's almost up for UAW negotiations

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner speaks at 62nd International Motorshow IAA on Sept. 11, 2007 in Frankfurt, Germany.

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Even big carmakers like General Motors are worried about the housing market. In a speech today in Germany, CEO Rick Wagoner said he's afraid people won't wanna spend the money on buying new cars. Plus, the automakers have another problem -- this week, a union contract that's about to run out. Here's Alisa Roth.


Alisa Roth: The contract expires Friday, but the United Auto Workers still hasn't come to any agreement with GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Alan Baum is a consultant with the firm the Planning Edge. He says the delay doesn't mean anything.

Alan Baum: It's in nobody's interest, really, not to settle. So I see, obviously the deadline is there, but we've seen time and time again that if things are moving, then they continue.

The biggest issue is who will foot the bill for retiree health care. And it's an expensive issue: it'll cost almost $100 billion to fund health care for retirees at the three companies. One possibility's a trust, funded by the Big Three but administered by the union.

Baum says it's not surprising the talks are taking so long.

Baum: These negotiations are very complex, both in terms of the subject matter they're handling, but also in the financial minutiae.

He says he expects the contract will also offer the Big Three more flexibility in how they run their plants.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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