DETROIT – Gary Cowger, a key player in General Motors Corp.’s labor negotiations for more than a decade, tells Ward’s he is confident the auto maker will be able to meet the targets laid down under the federal loan program by the Feb.17 deadline.

“All parties are working hard to come up with a satisfactory solution,” Cowger, GM group vice president for manufacturing and labor relations, says at the North American International Auto Show here. “We all understand the competitive situation.”

The government is demanding that the United Auto Workers union reduce its labor compensation to match that of workers at transplant auto makers.

Cowger has no comment on those negotiations but underscores, “We’ve already done a lot – on health care in 2005 and 2007 and the 2-tier wage structure, also in 2007.”

The latter calls for new hires to be paid at half the hourly rate of established workers.