0 The Michigan Daily michigandaily.com
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 3A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 3A
from state workers
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's
administration wants to discuss
possible wage concessions from
state employees to help fix budget
deficits, labor union representa-
tives said yesterday.
Officials from two of the five
unions representing state employ-
ees said they've been contacted by
the Office of the State Employer
about the need for savings.
Michigan's public universities
and K-12 schools also are bracing
for cuts when Gov. Jennifer Gra-
nholm's administration presents
its spending plan Tomorrow for
the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
The state could face a possible
deficit of $1.6 billion in the next
fiscal year. It also could get a cou-
ple billion dollars from a federal
stimulus package next year and
even more this fiscal year, but the
Granholm administration doesn't
know yet how much is coming or
what they'll be able to spend it on.
The governor already has said
her budget proposal will contain
deep cuts, even with the stimulus
money. "It's not going to be pretty,"
Granholm warned last month.
State employees are worried
they'll be asked for more sacrifices
to keep spending in line.
Sarkozy seeks to
restore ties with
President Nicolas Sarkozy paid
the first visit to Iraq by a French
head of state yesterday, smoothing
over lingering resentment about
France's opposition to the war and
positioning his country to cash in
on lucrative arms and oil deals.
The one-day visit, part of a Per-
sian Gulf tour, took place as the
Obama administration is preparing
to draw down the 144,000-strong
U.S. military force and signaled
France's intention to play a diplo-
matic role in a region dominated by
the United States.
"I want to underscore France's
desire to participate in the econom-
ic development of Iraq, the reha-
bilitation of its infrastructures,"
Sarkozy told reporters after meet-
ing Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
"Our collaboration has no limits."
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka
16 people killed in
At least 16 patients being treated
at a makeshift hospital in the north-
ern Sri Lankan war zone were killed
by shelling, the Red Cross said yes-
terday, as the military accused rebel
fighters of killing 19 other civilians
fleeing the area.
The United Nations, meanwhile,
said it was outraged by the "unnec-
essary" deaths of hundreds of peo-
ple inside rebel territory and urged
both sides to avoid fighting in civil-
The government accuses the
Tamil Tiger rebels of holding civil-
ians hostage in the war zone to use
as human shields against the mili-
tary's offensive. The rebels deny the
say more than 200,000 civilians are
believed trapped in the patch of ter-
ritory still under rebel control.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
Wal-Mart to cut
700-800 jobs at
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will cut
700 to 800 jobs at its northwestern
Arkansas headquarters as it builds
fewer new stores this year and
makes other operational chang-
es, the world's largest retailer
The cuts are in Wal-Mart's real
estate, apparel and health and
wellness departments, spokesman
David Tovar said. Wal-Mart would
not say how many jobs will be cut in
Tovar said employees will be
told of the cuts in the next couple of
weeks and there was no immediate
plan to make other positions within
Wal-Mart available to them.
But he said the company also
plans to add jobs at its New York
apparel office and expects "to add
thousands of jobs" at Wal-Mart
stores and Sam's Club warehouses
this year - a figure that includes
hires at new stores.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. walk off
the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, after the Senate approved President Barack Obama's stimulus measure.
Senate approves Obama's
stimulus planb 61-37 vote
GM to cut
Majority of cuts vary by global regions depending
on staffing levels and market con-
expected before ditions.
The company's statement said
May 1 there would be no buyout or early
retirement packages as GM had
NEW YORK (AP) - General offered in the past, but laid-off
Motors Corp. is planning to slash employees will get severance pay,
another 10,000 salaried jobs this benefit contributions and other
year, saying the cuts are unavoid- assistance.
able with a government restruc- GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson
turing deadline looming and would not say exactly where the
industry-wide sales in one of the U.S. cuts would come from, but he
worst downturns in history. said the automaker will continue
The Detroit-based automaker to staff areas such as electric vehi-
said yesterday it will reduce its cle development that it expects to
total number of white-collar be important going forward.
workers by 14 percent to 63,000. "The goal is to put our people
About 3,400, or 12 percent, of in the areas that are critical to our
GM's 29,500 salaried U.S. jobs future success," Wilkinson said.
will be eliminated. GM also said it will cut the pay
Most of the company's remain- ofmost ofits salaried U.S. workers
ing salaried employees will have effective May 1. The pay cuts will
their wages cut. be reevaluated at the end of the
In its plan to Congress sub- year, GM said.
mitted late last year, GM said it The wages of U.S. executive
would have to reduce both sala- employees will be cut by 10 per-
ried and hourly positions so that cent, while other salaried workers
the company could become viable will see cuts of 3 percent to 7 per-
long-term. The company plans to cent, GM said.
reduce its total U.S. work force GM faces a Feb. 17 deadline to
from 96,537 people in 2008 to present a plan to the government
between 65,000 and 75,000 in showing the wounded automak-
2012, but did not specify how er can become viable. GM has
many of the surviving jobs will be received $9.4 billion in aid from
salaried or hourly, the Treasury Department so far
GM Chief Executive Rick'Wag- and expects to get $4 billion more,
oner, who was meeting with con- but the government can demand
gressional leaders in Washington repayment March 31 if it deter-
about global warming legislation, mines the company can't become
said yesterday's announcement is viable.
"indicative of the kind of things The company is required to
we need to do to get this viability show the government it can
plan in shape and respond to these achieve "positive net present
tough market conditions." value," which means that the pres-
GM has dramatically down- ent value of a company's expected
sized both its salaried and hourly net cash flows exceeds the initial
work forces in recent years as the investment in the company.
U.S. auto market has shrunk from The loan terms also require
an annual sales rate of around 16 bondholders to swap part of the
million vehicles to 13.2 million " company's debt for equity. And,
last year. the UAW must make concessions
Since 2000, GM's salaried work that will reduce labor costs to the
force has shrunk by 33 percent level of Japanese automakers'
from its 2000 high of 44,000 peo- . plants in the U.S.
ple. At the same time, the number Wagoner said yesterday that
of hourly workers has plunged by talks with bondholders and the
more than half - to about 63,700 United Auto Workers union are
people at the end of last year from ongoing and "there's good dia-
133,000 in 2000. logue." GM's plan also will include
Mostofthecuts announcedyes- shuttering additional factories,
terday are expected to take place according to people familiar with
by May 1. GM said the cuts will the plans.
a key v
38B bill passed, markets and slow layoffs that have
left 3.6 million Americans unem-
w Jones drops ployed.
It was a historic day of emer-
0pogency federal action, but Wall
Street didn't seem impressed. The
SHINGTON (AP) - The Dow Jones industrials were down
approved President Barack more than 300 points in afternoon
's giant economic stimu- trading.
asure on yesterday, part of Treasury Secretary Timothy
g of powerful government Geithner outlined few details of
hat could marshal close to how the Obama administration
ion in taxpayer and private would spend the remaining $350
to revive the collapsing billion of the $700 billion bank
i economy. bailout program started last fall
61-37 vote bythe Senate was under President George W. Bush.
ictory for the president but He also announced a new pub-
difficult negotiations with lic-private partnership to help
use, which passed a slightly strengthen banks.
nt version than the $838 bil- "Critical parts of our finan-
l approved yesterday. cial system are damaged," Gei-
trity Leader Harry Reid, thner said. "The financial system
, vowed to send a finished is working against recovery and
Obama's desk "as soon as that's the dangerous dynamic we
e." need to change."
ma, who was in Fort Myers, Added to the congressional
omoting his economic res- stimulus plan, which aims to
orts, welcomed the vote as create jobs and get Americans
news. ... It's a good start." spending again, the total of these
me shortly after the Trea- combined efforts could easily pass
Department and Federal $2 trillion.
e moved to commit colossal Then, in a related government
f money to help thaw credit commitment of financial sup-
port, the Federal Reserve broad-
ened a program designed to boost
resources for consumer credit and
small business loans - from $200
billion to up to $1 trillion.
Obama kept up his dawn-to-
dusk efforts to sell his new admin-
istration's rescue plan, flying to
Fort Myers, Fla., a city especially
hard hit by mortgage foreclosures.
"I believe in hope, but I also
believe in action," he told a town-
hall meeting in Fort Myers.
Geithner's details on some
aspects of the new plan were
sparse. He said little about how the
new public-private partnership
would actually work to encourage
hedge funds and other investors to
buy toxic securities now clogging
bank balance sheets.
Later, he told CNBC the admin-
istration wants "to be careful to
get this right."
For his part, Obama disclosed
during his Florida appearance that
"I'm going to be personally mak-
ing an announcement in the next
couple weeks what our overall
housing strategy is going to be."
"We've got to provide some
direct relief to homeowners," he
Iranian president responds to Obama's call for dialogue
he is open to
talks on nuclear
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's
hard-line president told crowds
celebrating the Islamic revolu-
tion's anniversary yesterday that
the country is ready for talks with
the United States, the strongest
signal yet that Tehran welcomes
President Barack Obama's calls for
President Mahmoud Ahmadine-
jad made the comments ina speech
to hundreds of thousands celebrat-
ing the 30th anniversary of the
revolution, which ousted the U.S-
backed shah and installed rule
by hard-line Muslim clerics. The
event led to a collapse in relations
between the two countries and
years of enmity.
As usual at such gatherings,
there were chants of "Death to
America," along with the burning
of U.S. and Israeli flags. But the
chanting stopped as Ahmadinejad
spoke of dialogue with the United
States, and the firebrand president
refrained from the denunciations
of America that often mark his
Since Obama's election, Irani-
an leaders have struck a cautious
tone over his campaign promises
to open a dialogue with Tehran,
signaling that the government was
undecided on how to respond. Yes-
terday, Ahmadinejad made it clear
Iran is prepared to talk, citing ter-
rorism, the elimination of nuclear
weapons, restructuring the JJ.N.
Security Council and fighting drug
trafficking as possible areas for
"The Iranian nation is ready for
talks (with the U.S.), but in a fair
atmosphere with mutual respect,"
Ahmadinejad told the crowds in
Tehran's Freedom Square.
His comments came the day
after Obama said his administra-
tion was looking for opportuni-
ties to engage Iran and pledged to
rethink Washington's relationship
But Ahmadinejad also
declared that Iran is now a
"superpower" - pointing to the
recent launch of the first locally
made satellite into space - and
made clear it expects tobe treat-
ed as an equal.
"If you really want to fight
terrorism, come and cooper-
ate with the Iranian nation,
which is the biggest victim of
terrorism so that terrorism is
eliminated. ... If you want to
confront nuclear weapons ... you
need to stand beside Iran so it can
introduce a correct path to you,"
Ahmadinejad did not elaborate,
but in the past he and other Iranian
leaders have criticized the U.S. for
its nuclear arsenal.
His speech comes as he begins
campaigning for a second term.
He faces a formidable challenge in
the June election from Iran's top
reformist politician, former Presi-
dent Mohammad Khatami, who
entered the race over the weekend.
Khatami has supported improving
ties with the West.
Asked about Ahmadinejad's
comments, Secretary of State Hil-
lary Clinton said the Iranian gov-
ernment has an opportunity "to
unclench their fist and to begin
a serious and responsible discus-
sion about a range of matters."
"We still persist in our view
that Iran should not obtain nuclear
weapons, that it would be a very
unfortunate course for them to
pursue, and we hope there will be
opportunity in the future for us to
develop a better understanding of
one another and to work out away
of talking that would produce posi-
tive results for the people of Iran,"
Tehran and Washington sev-
ered relations nearly three decades
ago after the 1979 Iranian revolu-
tion and the takeover of the U.S.
Embassy in Tehran by hard-line
But relations deteriorated even
further after the Sept. 11 attacks
when former President George W.
Bush declared Iran belonged to an
"axis of evil." Ahmadinejad wid-
ened that gap after he was elected
in 2005 and defied the U.S. and its
allies by pursuing Iran's controver-
sial nuclear program.
The U.S. believes Iran is secretly
trying to pursue nuclear weapons,
but Iran has denied this accusa-
tion, saying its program is solely
for peaceful purposes such as elec-
Years of negotiations between
Tehran and Europe over its nucle-
ar program have failed to make any
breakthroughs, with Iran repeat-
edly rejecting U.S. and European
economic incentives to suspend
parts of its program and brushing
off U.N. sanctions.
But Washington and Tehran
did cooperate closely in the 2001
ousting of Afghanistan's Tali-
ban - before Bush's axis of evil
Life is calling. How far will you go?