Stances on 2 tough issues make long auto strike possible

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

General Motors and United Automobile Workers negotiators took Monday off after 20 hours of fruitless talks Sunday. They were due back at the bargaining table today.

Selective strikes took effect Monday, shutting down production in 12 plants and threatening operations at others.

GM and the UAW have a national contract covering wages and other major issues and separate contracts covering work conditions at each plant. The parties have reached agreements at many plants, but other plant bargaining is marking time awaiting a final resolution of two national issues.

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* Job security. The union demands limits on GM's freedom to buy cars and parts from outside sources, abroad or in the United States. It also wants union participation when decisions are made to install robots or other new production techniques that would displace workers.

* Wage increases. The UAW is determined to regain some of the billions of dollars in pay-and-benefits concessions workers agreed to in 1982 at the height of the worst auto industry slump since the 1930s. Total costs are reported to stand in the way of a settlement. GM has offered job guarantees for a large part of its work force and proposed to set up a fund for income maintenance and job retraining (at a reported cost of hundreds of millions of dollars).

But the company says that, to remain competitive, it must have the right to buy components and cars at lower cost than it can make them in its plants.

GM originally offered workers a $600 lump-sum bonus in the first year of a new contract, another bonus of $300 more in the second year, then nothing in the third year. In the last days of prestrike negotiations, GM made a new wage offer. The UAW said both offers were inadequate.

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