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UAW Gears Up For Contract Talks With Detroit's Big 3

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UAW Gears Up For Contract Talks With Detroit's Big 3

Business

UAW Gears Up For Contract Talks With Detroit's Big 3

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

The United Auto Workers are gearing up for contract negotiations with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. The automakers are in better shape than they were last time they signed labor contracts, so the union says it's a good time to negotiate.

NPR's Sonari Glinton was at the UAW's annual convention and sent this report.

SONARI GLINTON: The UAW's meeting was held against the backdrop of recent fights between public sector workers, especially in Ohio and Wisconsin, and their governors.

Here's UAW head Bob King speaking to the union leaders.

Mr. BOB KING (United Auto Workers): They're putting the same agenda in all these state houses across the country. So it's incumbent on us as labor to come together and have a common strategy of how we're going to fight 'em.

GLINTON: Figuring out that strategy was part of what union leaders talked about. But the real subject was upcoming contract negotiations. The UAW's Bob King says recent good news for the car companies should mean good news for their workers.

Mr. KING: Now, you always want the companies to be doing well when you're going into negotiations. You're in much better shape. You can do more for your membership when the companies are doing well.

Mr. SEAN MCALINDEN (Center for Automotive Research): I think that is sort of pie in the sky.

GLINTON: Sean McAlinden with the Center for Automotive Research says the union is unlikely to win back major concessions, and their leaders know it.

Mr. MCALINDEN: The automotive market hasn't fully recovered by any means, and it's facing still a number of high risk factors, like higher gasoline prices or part shortages.

GLINTON: McAlinden says how things go will largely depend on where gas prices and the economy are when negotiations begin in earnest this summer.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Detroit.

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