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GM Reportedly Near Deal With UAW

Two people briefed on the GM plan reported progress Monday toward a deal with the United Auto Workers, but UAW Legislative Director Alan Reuther said he did not expect labor agreements in time for Tuesday's deadline.

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 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.

GM's plan 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 in other parts of the world, a person briefed on GM's plan said.

The plan will stick with GM's public strategy of trying to remain viable and avoiding Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been finalized.

Gibbs said the Obama administration looks forward to reviewing GM and Chrysler's restructuring plans, and the president wouldn't rule out a government-backed bankruptcy for the struggling automakers.
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