| NEW YORK, Sept 27
NEW YORK, Sept 27 General Motors Co will
wait until its next round of labor talks in 2015 before
negotiating with the United Auto Workers about the automaker's
U.S. blue-collar pension obligation, GM's vice chairman said on
GM's pension obligation to UAW-represented workers in the
United States was $71 billion at the end of 2011, the last time
the Detroit company detailed its blue-collar pension obligation.
That exceeds GM's current market value by about $20 billion.
"There's a lot of education that needs to go on to execute
something like that," Steve Girsky told Reuters in an interview.
"For the UAW to pull the trigger on that, it would seem to be
something that big and visible would probably have to occur
A GM spokesman said there were no ongoing talks with the UAW
over the pension obligation.
During the last round of labor talks in 2011, GM and the UAW
agreed to discuss ways the No. 1 U.S. automaker could reduce the
risk of its pension shortfall, viewed by credit ratings agencies
as debt and a concern to GM investors.
The agreement, outlined in a letter, did not detail specific
steps. Analysts said options likely include allowing
UAW-represented retirees to voluntarily take lump-sum cash
payments in exchange for giving up pension claims.
Another solution would be to spin off GM's blue-collar
pension obligation to a third party. GM took that approach last
year when it hived off its U.S. pension obligation to 118,000
white-collar retirees to a unit of Prudential Financial Inc
GM cut $28 billion, or about a quarter, of its U.S. pension
liability through last year's move.
Girsky has talked in the past about taking the pension risk
"off the table" for investors.
GM was the first of the U.S. automakers to establish a
pension plan in 1950 as part of the "Treaty of Detroit," a
contract negotiated by legendary UAW leader Walter Reuther. Ford
and Chrysler followed suit.
But by the mid-2000s, pensions and other retiree benefits
became an ever-increasing liability that automakers said added
as much as $2,000 to the cost of a vehicle and put them at a
disadvantage against foreign rivals.
Since then, GM and Ford have both taken steps to "de-risk"
their pension plans by closing off their plans to new
participants, offering lump-sum buyouts and shifting to more