Ray Ruiz, who spearheaded a drive to introduce Japanese-style "team concept" work rules at the General Motors assembly plant in Van Nuys, will be transferred to the United Auto Workers headquarters in Detroit as a staff representative, union officials said Thursday.
Ruiz, 31, who serves as shop chairman and chief negotiator for UAW Local 645 in Van Nuys, will receive an automatic one-year leave of absence from the plant to take the job, Local 645 President Peter Z. Beltran said.
Ruiz will have to apply to the local's membership, however, to get back his officer titles if he returns, Beltran said.
The next meeting at the local is scheduled for Nov. 25. A replacement for Ruiz will likely be selected then, he said.
In Detroit, Ruiz will work in a new "human resources" group overseeing relations between car manufacturers and the union, said Joe B. Garcia, financial secretary for the local. Ruiz will be responsible, in part, for helping to implement the team concept at other plants around the nation, he said.
Under the team concept, employees work in small groups and in theory have more say over how a car is made. It represents a sharp break from the traditional American assembly line, in which each worker performs a single task.