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Some GM Plants Close Despite UAW Deal

November 03, 1996|From Times Wire Services

DETROIT — The tentative labor contract reached early Saturday between General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers averted a national strike but came too late to halt the momentum of plant closings triggered by local strikes.

A parts shortage caused by the strike over local issues at GM's metal-stamping plant in Indianapolis already has led to shutdowns of four of GM's high-profit truck-assembly plants. A second local-issue strike shut down GM's truck plant in Janesville, Wis.

However, GM said Saturday evening that it had reached an agreement to end the strike at the Indianapolis plant. Patrick Morisssey, a spokesman for GM's metal-fabricating division, confirmed that the deal with Local 23 was reached about 6:15 p.m. EST, about 14 hours after the tentative agreement on the national contract.

Morrissey said Local 23 members were scheduled to vote on the local agreement today. If the pact is ratified, some production was expected to resume tonight, with the full work force back by Monday.

The national agreement, covering 215,000 GM workers, came after four months of negotiations and a final 17-hour session.

Details were not released. The UAW said its national bargaining committee endorsed the pact unanimously. It goes to the UAW-GM council of local presidents for approval Wednesday before going to members for ratification.

GM already has been struggling to catch up from last month's three-week strike by the Canadian Auto Workers, which shut down its plants in Canada and led to slowdowns and closures of dozens of parts and assembly plants in the United States and Mexico.

A total of 18,909 workers were off their jobs because of the strikes and shutdowns, and an additional 18,958 GM workers remained idle because of lingering parts shortages from the Canadian strike.

Although details on the national agreement were withheld pending Wednesday's union meeting, GM chief negotiator Gerald A. Knechtel said it followed the pattern established in national pacts the UAW signed with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp.

Those companies agreed to maintain at least 95% of their UAW-covered jobs for the next three years, with exceptions for an industry downturn and jobs replaced by improved productivity.

GM had been seeking broader exceptions that would allow it to trim its work force by tens of thousands of jobs, especially in its big parts subsidiary, Delphi Automotive Systems.

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