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GM says it won't add products 'solely' to cut UAW deal

FLINT, Mich. (Reuters) – General Motors Co. will not make any product commitments “solely” to achieve a deal with the UAW in upcoming contract talks, the automaker’s top labor executive said today.

“We certainly aren’t going to make a decision and make a commitment solely as a way of getting an agreement,” said Cathy Clegg, GM vice president of labor relations. “If the market doesn’t drive it, we can’t do that.”

Talks between the UAW and the three U.S. automakers begin next week with GM slated to start negotiations on July 27. UAW officials have repeatedly said that adding jobs will be the union’s priority in the upcoming negotiations.

“This country has to come back with jobs,” Joe Ashton, the UAW vice president in charge of GM relations, told reporters, later adding, “We’ve got a tough set of negotiations coming up.”

One way for the UAW to boost jobs is by convincing GM to increase vehicle production in the United States, something the union hopes to do at plants with excess capacity. GM has three such plants in Spring Hill, Tenn.; Shreveport, La., and Janesville, Wis.

Clegg said GM wanted employees to “share in our success.” But she also said: “Reconstructing what we were is not in the cards.”

Clegg and Ashton spoke at an event to mark GM’s $328 million investment in its Flint assembly plant to make the next generation of full-size pickup trucks.

The U.S. automaker said as part of the investment it will create or retain 150 jobs at the plant, which opened in 1947 and employs about 2,050 people.

GM is expected to roll out the next version of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups in early 2013. The investment is part of a plan announced by GM in May to invest $2 billion in 17 U.S. plants.

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