KOKOMO, Ind. — Auto workers at a key parts plant appeared to be well on their way to overwhelmingly ratifying a new contract Saturday, ending a six-day strike that forced the layoffs of 37,550 General Motors Corp. employees nationwide.
With about 3,000 votes cast, about 99% of the striking Delco Electronics workers had approved the new contract, said Mike Thayer, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 292.
The 7,700 UAW workers at the GM subsidiary, which makes and ships parts used in all GM cars, walked off the job Monday in a dispute over job subcontracting and the transfer of some radio work to Mexico.
By Friday, the ensuing parts shortage had forced 37,550 layoffs at other GM plants. By Monday, more than 47,000 workers at 16 assembly plants nationwide will be idle, John Mueller, a GM spokesman in Detroit, said Saturday. Those plants are in Missouri, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana and Delaware.
"What has to happen is that we have to get the pipeline filled up again. We have to get the parts from Kokomo to those places before they're called back to work," Mueller said.
John Grix, another company spokesman in Detroit, said the company was working to determine how long it would take to return the affected plants to full production once the Kokomo strikers return to work.
Thayer estimated that the first full shift of Delco employees would return to work about midnight tonight.
Thayer said the new contract keeps radio production at the Kokomo plant. In return, employees promoted to a new radio product line would not transfer to other units for 12 months, saving the company training costs.
He said that during negotiations, which ended early Friday, GM offered to keep the radio lines in Kokomo if UAW negotiators could find $25 million in cost-cutting measures.
The two sides also agreed to eliminate some management positions by requiring hourly workers to take more responsibility, including some budget planning.