Business: Collision Course in Detroit

A FAMILIAR collective-bargaining ritual was played out in Detroit last week. Just 13 days before the deadline for a strike that could powerfully affect the future course of the nation's economy, the Big Three automakers simultaneously presented their first cash offer to 700,000 members of the United Auto Workers. Union leaders angrily rejected the nearly identical proposals as much too little. On the surface, at least, the disparity between offer and expectation seems to increase the chances for an auto strike when the industry's current three-year contracts expire next week.*

Much of the disparity arises from differing interpretations of a curiously ambiguous...

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