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January, 2006

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Delphi continues to play hardball
Corporations seek common ground to maintain global supremacy

By Claire McClinton
Labor leader and activist in Flint, Michigan

The two parties were in intense negotiations hoping to avoid a costly strike. Consequently, the company has withdrawn the contract proposals that angered the union members. Delphi Corporation in talks with the UAW?? No, believe it or not, it's Delphi and GM who are talking.

In fact, the nation's largest auto supplier has only met with the UAW twice since Delphi filed for bankruptcy in October. This scenario is just another twist in Steve "Terminator" Miller's quest to destroy the middle class way of life as we know it. Knowing that a strike was all but inevitable, the Delphi CEO used the threat to his advantage declaring that "If strikes were to occur, the principal impact would be not so much on Delphi but General MotorsÂ…" (Delphi is GMs' major supplier in North America and a strike at Delphi would shut them down in as little as 48 hours. However, most Delphi parts servicing Toyota's North American operations are made in Mexico).

For their part, GM is hardly situated to do anything but try to appease the situation. Recently, they were even further downrated to Junk Bond status (it's lowest since 1952). This despite CEO Robert Wagner feverishly working to appease the markets with initiatives such as securing health care concessions from the UAW and announcing 30,000 new layoffs and plant closings. They continue to lose market share and one of GM's biggest shareholders just sold off 12 million shares of stock. Some analysts are talking about the possibility of a GM bankruptcy.

The GM-Delphi talks have garnered some relief for the world's largest automaker. Besides withdrawing the Draconian contract proposals, Delphi has postponed the court date where they were seeking to void the union contracts. The date has been pushed back twice now. Originally, the date was December 15 -- now it has been moved to February 17. Still a strike is not out of the question, given the militancy of the workers, and both GM and Delphi continue to stockpile parts at some of their plants.