4/5/08

Socialists convince UAW to expand AAM strike

General Motors Corp. faces the possibility of strikes at five plants in Michigan, Ohio and Texas as early as April 13 if the automaker is unable to reach local contract agreements at those UAW locals within 10 days.

"The UAW has notified GM that they intend on issuing a five-day strike notice in five days at our Arlington, Texas; Parma, Ohio; Warren Transmission; Lansing Delta Township and Flint Assembly plants," GM spokesman Dan Flores said. "We remain committed to continuing to bargain in good faith toward reaching a tentative local labor agreement as soon as possible."

Video: "Socialists call to expand UAW-AAM strike"



The notices, called five-before-five letters, mean that those five plants could go on strike as early as 10 days from the issue of their letters, the first of which went out Thursday.

The threat could further slow vehicle production at GM, where a shortage of parts from striking supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings has affected operations at 30 facilities, including full shutdowns at 10 assembly, engine and transmission plants.

It was unclear specifically what issues in local negotiations caused the unions to issue the strike notices.

Dan Smith, the shop chairman at Local 1005 in Parma, Ohio, posted a notice on the union local Web site Friday morning that said the strike notification letters were issued because the union committee had reached an impasse in local contract negotiations with plant management. He did not specify what that impasse was.

"We're not going to discuss the issues," Flores said. "We're committed to resolving the issues at the bargaining table."

Calls to a spokesman at UAW headquarters in Detroit were not returned.

GM and many of its UAW locals continue to negotiate local contracts. Under the UAW system, the national union bargains for pay and economic benefits while union locals hammer out work rules.

But the matter of which jobs would be classified as lower-paying, so-called noncore positions is not the sticking point in local negotiations, according to GM.

Jim Robinson, an electrician in Arlington, said workers at his plant believed the strike threat was issued to demonstrate support for American Axle workers and was unpopular. Following the issuance of temporary layoff notices in Arlington on Friday, he believes a strike there is unlikely right away. GM distributed notices to Arlington workers on Friday saying that they would be laid off for three weeks beginning April 14, Robinson said.

"When people heard about that five-day letter they were mad," Robinson said. "But I doubt we will go out now, if we're going on a layoff. That wouldn't make any sense."

(freep.com)

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