Fomoconews.com DEARBORN, MI., July 23, 2007 -- Ron Gettelfinger (left), UAW President and Alan Mulally, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company at the opening of 2007 UAW-Ford Collective Bargaining talks at Ford's World Headquarters. Photo by: Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor Co. (07/23/2007)
The traditional handshake ceremonies that open talks between the United Auto Workers and the car companies are complete with this afternoon's meeting between Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.
Ford Motor Chairman Bill Ford Jr. also took part in the ceremonial handshake at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn.
"I look better than Rick, huh," joked Mulally, referring to General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner, who earlier in the day joined a similar ritual at GM Headquarters.
Gettelfinger quipped: "I can feel the blood rushing out of my hand,"
"If you pull hard I'll be on that side (of the table)," laughed Bill Ford.
The ceremonial greetings precede talks that some analysts believe are the most critical ever to the union and the domestic automakers, who are desperate to slash costs to compete with foreign rivals. The national contracts between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers expire Sept. 14.
Shortly after 9 a.m. Gettelfinger smiled and shook hands with Wagoner, while GM chief negotiator Diana Tremblay shook hands with UAW Vice President Cal Rapson. All four had to lean across a table to complete the handshake for photographers.
Gettelfinger and Wagoner wore suits and ties, by contrast to last week's Chrysler ceremony when the automaker's CEO Tom LaSorda and Gettelfinger sported polo shirts.
In an interview after the GM formalities, Gettelfinger said the union is not in a concessionary mode, and he also said a strike still is possible despite the precarious financial positions of the Detroit Three.
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