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Autoworkers, GM Agree to Health Care Trust, Other Benefits

The United Auto Workers union and General Motors reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday that includes a health care trust fund for retirees. A journalist based in Detroit explains the ramifications of the deal.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    The tentative agreement was reached early this morning. It includes a key element which transfers control of health care costs from General Motors to the union. Here to discuss what we know about it and other provisions of the deal is Micheline Maynard, Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times. She joins us tonight from New York.

    Welcome, Micheline.

  • MICHELINE MAYNARD, The New York Times:

    Thank you, Gwen.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Is it fair to say that this strike is what broke what had turned into an impasse?

  • MICHELINE MAYNARD:

    There was something of a logjam. I think the UAW and GM had agreed on the essence of the contract, which was a health care trust, but there were some details to be worked out. The union got a little bit frustrated with the lack of progress, and they decided to send workers out for a couple of days.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Assuming for a moment — I'm going to just give you credit for not knowing everything that's in the contract yet, because it's still being presented to workers. But just based on your reporting, what you know so far, tell us about this health care trust fund, $51 billion I guess off of GM's books?

  • MICHELINE MAYNARD:

    Right, what this is, is called is a VEBA, or Voluntary Employee Benefit Association. And what happens is this obligation will be taken off GM's books. It will be transferred to an independent trust, which will then administer health care benefits. The union will probably take a role in administering it, but there will be independent advisers who will decide what kind of benefits the UAW members will get.

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