- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

DETROIT (AP) — With a government-imposed deadline for its restructuring plan just a day away, General Motors Corp. was making progress Monday in concession talks with debtholders and its main union, but deals may not come until after the deadline passes, according to people briefed on the situation.

Talks at GM and Chrysler LLC, both of which are living off billions in government loans, continued Monday with few details emerging. Both companies must submit plans to the Treasury Department by Tuesday to show how they will repay the loans and become viable again.

Two people briefed on the GM plan reported progress toward a deal with the United Auto Workers. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private.

But UAW Legislative Director Alan Reuther said Monday he does not expect labor agreements in time for Tuesday’s deadline.

One of the people briefed on GM’s plan said some parts, such as bondholder and labor agreements, probably won’t be complete by the time the plan is submitted to the Treasury Department late Tuesday. GM executives have said the company only has to show substantial progress by Tuesday, with the whole plan finalized by March 31.

Reuther, who heads the UAW’s Washington office, said he had not been updated on the talks since Sunday night but he doesn’t expect agreements before Tuesday. He said the Obama administration’s appointment Sunday night of a task force to oversee the automakers’ restructuring should get things moving.

“I think this is an ongoing process, and having the Obama administration finally putting this task force in operation, hopefully it will be able to facilitate discussions going forward,” Reuther said.

At GM, UAW bargainers walked out of talks Friday night in a spat over the company’s contributions to a union-run trust fund that will take on retiree health care expenses starting next year. Although talks resumed Sunday, Reuther said the union’s concerns had not been resolved.

GM has received $9.4 billion in government loans and is to get another $4 billion if its plan is approved by the government. Chrysler received $4 billion and could get $3 billion more if its plan is approved. The plans must include concessions from debtholders and unions as well as substantial restructuring.

GM is likely to seek more money, at least up to the $18 billion that it requested from Congress in December under its worst-case scenario projections. That scenario has arrived with U.S. sales at a 26-year low and auto sales dropping considerably in other parts of the world, a person briefed on GM’s plan said.

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas reported from Washington.

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