GM uses UAW supplier-strike to pare losses

A labor strike at a supplier may force General Motors’ Lordstown complex to cut production and lay off workers. Workers could be laid off later this week or early next week, leaders of United Auto Workers Local 1112 said in a flier Tuesday. The plant is running short of a brake spindle that is forged by American Axle, a Detroit-based supplier that was hit by a UAW strike Feb. 26. About 3,600 American Axle workers are off the job at plants in Michigan and New York in a contract dispute.

The flier doesn’t make it clear how much of the Lordstown complex could be shut down. Union officials could not be reached to comment.

Dan Flores, a GM spokesman, said he can’t comment on potential effects of the supplier strike.

So far, however, the strike has shut down GM plants that produce pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles and component plants that produce metal stampings and engines for those plants.

Production at 29 GM plants has either been totally or partially shutdown. Most of the partial shutdowns are at engine and stamping plants that are continuing to produce parts for assembly plants that are running. Also, a Hummer plant operated by AM General has been partially closed.

When production stops at an assembly plant, salaried workers continue to report as do some hourly workers who are needed for maintenance and other duties, GM says on a Web site about the strike’s effects.

It said it isn’t releasing the number of employees who are laid off because it changes daily.

In Lordstown, GM has an assembly plant that produces the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 with about 2,400 hourly employees and a metal fabricating plant with about 1,000 hourly employees.

Union officials said in the flier they think laid-off workers would receive unemployment compensation and supplemental benefits provided in the union contract. The two benefits provide more than 90 percent of a worker’s take-home pay for a 40-hour week.

The flier said management has not announced any scheduled changes and more information would be released when it is known.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that talks in the American Axle strike are continuing. The company is proposing lower pay and benefits.

The flier also said talks on a new local labor contract for Local 1112 are going well. Management and union officials are meeting daily in hopes of reaching an agreement before the GM board of directors meets in June.

GM has told the union it is slated to receive a new model in 2009 and another one in 2010, but it needs to have a new local labor contract first.

The board of directors must approve any investments in preparing the local complex for the new models.


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