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UAW pacts are likely to fade as labor ideal

DETROIT -- American workers once looked to the Motor City to see their future. That's no longer the case.

This year's contract talks, under way between the United Auto Workers and the Detroit Big Three automakers, may decide the fate of the domestic auto industry. But economists and labor historians agree that UAW contract talks no longer set the nationwide agenda for the broader American work force as they once did.

Paul Fuller, 44, of Temperance, Mich., a nearly 20-year veteran of Ford Motor Co.'s Flat Rock assembly plant, said the public needs to realize that good pensions and benefits don't come automatically but must be earned through hard bargaining.