12/11/07

UAW mum as Navistar CEO sets pow-wow with strikers

Navistar International Corp. CEO Daniel Ustian will meet with leaders from the United Auto Workers Union to discuss the company’s latest contract offer to striking union members.

The union asked for a meeting with the Warrenville-based truck and engine maker’s top leadership. A spokesman for the company confirmed that Mr. Ustian will participate in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Chicago. The union’s bargaining committee has been studying the company’s latest offer since talks broke off nearly a week ago.

The UAW has been on strike since Oct. 23. The union represents about 4,000 Navistar employees, including about 700 at an engine plant in west suburban Melrose Park. Workers also are on strike at Navistar sites in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas.

The company is believed to be asking union workers to pay a greater portion of the costs for their health care insurance and other benefits in exchange for keeping unionized assembly plants open in the coming years. The company maintains that it needs to lower costs for the unionized plants to remain competitive. During the strike, the company has been relying on nonunion plants in Texas and Mexico to continue production of trucks.

“This deal outlines change for sure, but it’s done in the right way and maintains a good quality of life for our current employees and those heading into retirement,” said Jeff Bowen, Navistar’s vice-president for human resources, in a recorded message released Monday. “The ball remains in the union’s court.”

Calls to union for comment were not immediately returned.

(chicagobusiness.com)

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