GM CFO Says UAW Will Make Wage, Benefit Counteroffer With Delphi

Henderson says negotiations between unions, Delphi, GM and private equity investors are a daily occurrence.

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors Corp.'s chief financial officer said Thursday he expects the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to make a wage and benefit counteroffer soon in ongoing negotiations involving Delphi Corp.

''I haven't seen it. I think it's probably reasonable to expect we're going to see something,'' CFO Fritz Henderson told reporters.

Henderson said negotiations between the unions, Delphi, GM and private equity investors who plan to pump money into the struggling auto parts maker continue almost every day.

He also said he expects that important parts of the complicated negotiations could be resolved in May or June, with the whole agreement coming by the end of the year.

Delphi, GM's former parts operation that was spun off as a separate company in 1999, has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for more than a year.

When a group of private equity investors agreed to pump up to $3.4 billion into Delphi in December, Troy-based Delphi said it was contingent on reaching a wage and benefit agreement with labor unions. Delphi has said it can't compete in a global market because its labor costs are too high.

Delphi declined to comment on Henderson's remarks. A message seeking comment was left Thursday morning with the UAW.

Negotiations involving the investors, Delphi, GM and the UAW recently have become strained, with the union rejecting a wage offer that it called insulting and the UAW president threatening a strike if Delphi gets permission from a bankruptcy judge to void its labor contracts.

GM is involved in the talks because it has some financial liability for the company's labor costs.

Delphi has said that one of the investors, Cerberus Capital Management LP, was expected to leave the group, and Henderson said there are a number of other parties interested in helping Delphi to exit bankruptcy protection.

The UAW has been reluctant to grant concessions sought by Cerberus. The union agreed earlier to reduce Delphi's work force through mass buyouts and early retirement offers and to lowering wages for new workers hired to replace some of those who left.

Industry analysts have said a deal needs to be worked out before national contract talks between the Detroit Three automakers and the UAW formally begin this summer, and Henderson said he was optimistic that most of the deal could be completed by then.