GM’s first offer called for workers to pay 15% of health care tab

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DETROIT — General Motors’ initial contract offer to the UAW called for workers to pay 15 percent of their health care costs — well below the national average of 28 percent but far higher than the 3 to 4 percent workers currently pay. The union balked at the proposal, and the automaker quickly walked back the proposal and offered to keep members’ obligations at the level they currently pay, according to sources familiar with the talks. After the union announced Sunday it would strike, GM, in a statement, said its latest offer called for workers to “retain nationally-leading health care benefits,” although it did not go into details.

A GM spokesman declined to comment Monday.

Health care is a key issue in the talks, as the union tries to preserve and build upon existing coverage, while the automakers see it as an area to realize much-needed cost savings. Ford Motor Co. has said it expects its health care outlays to exceed $1 billion in 2020. Costs at GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are increasing similarly.

If nothing changes at Ford, inflation costs alone over the next four years would be equivalent to a nearly $3-an-hour pay increase, one source said.

Negotiations were expected to resume Monday morning. GM workers at plants across the U.S. went on strike late Sunday night.

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