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GM CEO, UAW chief meet; contract talks intensify: sources

By Bernie Woodall and Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Contract talks between General Motors Co and the United Auto Workers union have intensified and shifted to consideration of the scope and terms of a profit-sharing deal for some 49,000 workers at the top American automaker, people with knowledge of the talks said.

In a sign of progress, GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson met on Tuesday with UAW President Bob King for over an hour at the union's Detroit headquarters known as Solidarity House, the sources said.

GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky and UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who is heading up contract talks with GM, also joined that meeting, which came with just over a week remaining in the current four-year deal with the union on wages and benefits.

GM has emerged as the focus of UAW's negotiating efforts in Detroit although parallel talks have continued with Chrysler Group LLC. Chrysler, now controlled by Fiat Spa , was put through a U.S. government-funded bankruptcy like GM.

Talks on Tuesday between the main bargaining teams at the UAW and GM ran late into the evening and were expected to continue into the evening for the duration of negotiations, one person said.

The sources asked not to be named because the contract talks remain private.

Girsky declined to discuss the status of the automaker's talks with the UAW on Wednesday, telling a meeting with financial analysts in New York that there was "zero upside" to talking about negotiations "given where we are in the labor discussions."

UAW local presidents who represent workers at GM's U.S. plants expect to be summoned in Detroit for a briefing on the terms of a contract settlement within the next week although major issues remain unresolved, three union officials said.

The framework of a GM deal could provide a template for negotiations at Chrysler on the central issue of profit sharing, although key issues remain unresolved, one of the sources said.

Meanwhile, negotiations at Ford Motor Co have made slower progress, two other people close to those talks said.

Ford is the only U.S. automaker to have avoided bankruptcy and is the only one of the Detroit Three that the UAW has the power to strike.

GM and Chrysler workers lost the right to strike when the companies emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Deepa Seetharaman; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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