Hit by fast rising prescription drug expenses, General Motors is increasing premiums for its retirees next year.
Starting Jan. 1, GM officials say retirees will see their health care premiums jump about $25 a month on average. The move does not affect the company's hourly retirees or their spouses.
Their benefits are protected by United Auto Workers and other union agreements. Local union representatives in Lansing say it could be a major hurdle in next year's bargaining of the UAW''s national contract.
The current contract expires in September of 2003. GM spokesperson Tom Wickham says this is one area the company could keep costs down, adding it's premature to talk about what may or may not be talked about next year.