3/5/08

UAW's 'terrible' strike forces more layoffs

"Terrible" is the word some UAW retirees used to describe the news of 190 temporary layoffs at Delphi Thermal Corp. in Lockport. A few retirees and members of the United Auto Workers, Local 686 spent some time Tuesday at the union hall on Walnut Street in Lockport talking about the layoffs. Some think there are more layoffs on the way, and that they are just a sign of the weakening economy in the area. But even though the Delphi layoffs are a result of the American Axle & Manufacturing strike, UAW members are pledging their support to the striking union members.

Most of the Delphi UAW members we talked to believe the wage cut American Axle wants workers to take isn’t enough for the workers to live on. “They’re standing up for their rights,” said Gail Zack of Newfane, a Delphi retiree. “We don’t blame them at all. You can’t raise a family on that (proposed wage cut at American Axle). It is tough; everything is going up in price.”

The Delphi layoffs are temporary and begin this week, said Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams on Monday. Most UAW members don’t see an end to layoffs either; instead they said they expect to see more.

“I don’t think there is a person around who doesn’t see more coming,” said Sam Turco, another Delphi retiree. “Nobody cares about the American worker.”

Current workers aren’t happy, according to Zack. One union member, who did not give her name before she had to leave, said she wasn’t happy. She had to take a cut in pay to keep her job, she said. Other members voiced their contempt for the layoffs, but stressed their support for the Axle workers.

“The union feels terrible, and we back them with full support,” said Delphi retiree Dave Swan. “Just like they’d do for us.”

Swan is one of those who believe more layoffs are on the way at Delphi. He retired last year after 36 years at Delphi, taking a buyout of $35,000. He thought that would be as high as he could get and he had better take it.

“You know its going up,” he said of the layoffs. “I realized that was the best as it going to get.”

Williams said Monday that the Delphi layoffs are “temporary in nature,” and that when the American Axle strike issues are settled, Delphi workers would be called back. The strike was called on Feb. 26 after talks between union and management at American Axle broke off. The walkout affects about 500 workers at plants in Tonawanda and Cheektowaga.

American Axle and Delphi supply auto parts to General Motors plants, the biggest customer for each plant. Delphi and American Axle spun off from GM.

(lockportjournal.com/)

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