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Van Nuys UAW Members Vote to Oust Negotiator

October 03, 1986|ALAN GOLDSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

In the latest flare-up of the feud between rival factions at the United Auto Workers local in Van Nuys, an estimated 300 to 400 union members voted unanimously Thursday to suspend chief negotiator Ray Ruiz indefinitely.

Officials of UAW Local 645 said, however, that they don't believe the suspension can actually be enforced as a result of the tally.

The move came after Peter Z. Beltran, the local's president, charged that Ruiz broke a promise made last spring to block the introduction of Japanese-style labor practices at General Motors' Van Nuys assembly plant unless the company makes a long-term promise to keep the facility open.

On May 30, the local narrowly approved the so-called team concept approach that Ruiz and GM supported, under which workers would operate in small teams having more say in the way a car is manufactured.

The issue has split the local's membership, pitting Beltran and Ruiz against each other in a bitter power struggle.

Neither could be reached for comment.

But Bruce Lee, the UAW's Western regional director, said Ruiz never in fact promised to get any commitment from GM to keep the plant open. He called the vote a "nuisance," saying it ignored proper procedure.

A "trial" must be held before the local before any official can be removed, Lee said. He noted that only a small percentage of the local's roughly 2,000 members showed up to vote.

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