GM, Ford plan retiree healthcare cost hand-off

It could be the biggest healthcare cost hand-off in modern history, and a radical step for all concerned. General Motors and Ford have begun talks with the United Auto Workers union that would, if successful, see the union running a gigantic fund to pay for retiree healthcare costs. The deal would involve a huge one-time payment into the new UAW fund. The deal seems to be inspired by an agreement reached by tire manufacturer Goodyear, which recently passed off $1.2 billion of retiree health costs to United Steelworkers. The numbers are much bigger in this case, however; according to some estimates, GM alone may have $55 billion in future retiree health liabilities. It's not clear where the companies will get the money to fund the transfer, either.

To get more information on the negotiations:
- read this item from The Independent