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GM Talks Resume

Talks began again Monday morning in the walkout of 9,200 workers at two General Motors Corp. plants that has rippled through the giant automaker's North American operations, idling 60,000 workers. The strike is costing the company at least $40 million a day.

GM officials met separately this weekend with representatives of two United Auto Workers union locals at the Flint Metal Center and the Delphi Flint East plant, but no progress was reported from either side.

Parts shortages from the strike have closed or partially closed 13 of GM's 28 wholly owned major assembly plants, and 59 parts plants in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

"The big moneymakers - pickup and sport utility vehicle plants - are down now," said Stephen Girsky of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. "GM can't hold out much longer beyond this week."

The Delphi strike began Thursday, while the Metal Center strike started June 5.

Girsky said losses would rise to $60 million a day this week.

The UAW has portrayed the strike as a fight to keep U.S. jobs from being exported to Mexico, Thailand, and South America. Its leaders accuse GM of breaking its "social contract" with Americans to provide secure jobs that pay well.

GM said it needs to make plants more efficient to compete with nonunion plants operated by Japanese and European companies and foreign suppliers. GM and the union also disagree over quota and improvement issues.

GM shipped dies from the Flint Metal plant more than 200 miles to a metal center at Ontario, Ohio, to press sheet metal into hoods, fenders, and other truck body parts, ensuring that GM's new line of full-size trucks get to dealer showrooms in the fall.

"We're not really happy about the way it came about, but there's sighs of relief that there are jobs here," said Tom Young, a welder at GM for 21 years.

Johnny Givand, president of United Auto Workers Local 549 in Ohio, said national union leaders gave his members the go-ahead to operate the transferred equipment.

There had been some talk of a sympathy strike, but workers said that was squelched quickly. GM said they don't have a choice - it's in their contract.

In Flint, where GM was founded in 1908 and an estimated three of four workers in the county are tied to the automotive industry, analysts predict that the strikes will hurt efforts to revitalize the city.

"This is reinforcing the message that most people believe Flint is a bad place to do business," said David Cole, director of automative studies at the University of Michigan.

A spokesman for Gov. John Engler rejected a call from a political opponent that he mediate the dispute.

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