Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Montana’s junior U.S. senator decried the continued refusal by General Motor Corp. to renew its contract with a Montana mine to supply palladium for use in its vehicles. “After taking billions of dollars from taxpayers, General Motors continues to choose foreign jobs over American jobs. That flies in the face of common sense,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a statement Tuesday. “We aren’t buying it. I look forward to sharing with GM the hundreds of comments from folks who know this is a raw deal for taxpayers and for GM’s customers.” Tester put up a page on his Senate Web site in which Montanans could comment on the GM decision. According to the Associated Press, Frank McAllister, chairman and CEO of Stillwater Mining Co., said Tuesday that recent talks with the automaker failed to convince GM to reconsider cancellation of the contract. The talks "did not yield any positive results for our company, its employees and other stakeholders or the communities in which we operate," McAllister said. The meeting focused on changes to price guarantees for the precious metals, a release from Stillwater said. It added that "GM officials made it clear they are not interested in reconsidering the terminated supply contract with Stillwater, although they did not exclude the possibility of a future competitive supply relationship." Stillwater, which operates in southern Montana the only palladium-producing mines in the United States, employs about 1,300 people in the state. Last month, a bankruptcy judge approved GM canceling its contract with Stillwater. The mine supplied the automaker with metals used in catalytic converters to reduce pollution emissions. GM said it would purchase its metals from mines in South Africa and Russia. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Tester, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., all have called on the automaker to reconsider the cancellation of the contract. Schweitzer slammed GM Tuesday about its refusal to reconsider the contract. “It is disappointing that General Motors once again failed to negotiate in good faith," he said in a statement. The meeting between the two companies, Aug. 13, was announced by Schweitzer, who called for GM not to cancel the contract and said he would not drive his Chevrolet pickup unless the cancellation was reconsidered. Baucus and Tester called on GM to meet with them to discuss the issue, and Rehberg called for a hearing in the House to examine GM’s decision. Rehberg also sponsored a bill that would authorize re-issuing a 1907 U.S. $20 coin using palladium. He has commented that GM is now majority-owned by the government U.S. taxpayers after it accepted billions of dollars in loans through the federal automaker bailout and should not cancel a U.S. contract to buy the metals from overseas. In his statement Tuesday, Tester encouraged all Montanans concerned about GM’s decision to add their comments on his Web site. He said he has received more than 500 comments so far and will forward them to GM and the president’s White House Auto Task Force. On the Net: Tester GM comment site: http://tester.senate.gov/stillwater.