* Contracts extended at all three Detroit automakers
* UAW cannot strike GM, Chrysler
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT, Sept 16 General Motors Co (GM.N) and
the United Auto Workers union have made "good progress" toward
an agreement, a person familiar with the talks said on Friday
as negotiations resumed.
Talks also continued at Chrysler Group LLC on Friday
The UAW has chosen to attempt an agreement with No. 1 U.S.
automaker GM first, before then reaching a deal with Chrysler
and finally with Ford Motor Co (F.N), those close to the talks
At stake are wages and benefits for about 113,000 unionized
U.S. auto workers who have gone years without a base pay
increase since 2003.
GM and the other two automakers have offered one-time
contract-signing bonuses and profit-sharing, while the union
has sought higher wages for entry level workers, a commitment
to more production jobs and cost-of-living increases.
The talks are playing out at a time of uncertainty about
the strength of auto demand for the remainder of this year and
in 2012 as well as concern about the risk of another
Four-year contracts at all three automakers were extended
beyond their Wednesday night expirations.
That follows the pattern of earlier talks, although UAW
President Bob King and the automakers had held out hope for a
speedier resolution this time.
A key sticking point at GM, according to people familiar
with the talks, is the amount of signing bonuses to be offered
to its 49,000 unionized workers upon ratification. Any
settlement reached at the negotiating tables must be ratified
by the union's membership.
GM had proposed a per-worker signing bonus of close to
$3,500 based on recent manufacturing contracts negotiated by
the union, but the UAW has pressed for a higher figure. Most
analysts expect an agreement of $5,000 to $7,000.
That would cost GM between $245 million and $343 million.
GM stock has dropped 43 percent to $22.53 since its early
2011 high, and is down 32 percent since its staring IPO value
of $33 last November.
The UAW gave up the right to strike at GM and Chrysler
through 2015 as part of the federally funded bailouts of those
Any unresolved contract dispute at GM and Chrysler would go
to arbitration, which both sides have said they want to avoid.
Chrysler is managed and majority owned by Italy's Fiat SpA
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)