Originally created 06/18/97

GM, UAW avert strike at Milwaukee plant



DETROIT (AP) - General Motors Corp. averted a threatened strike and potential shutdown of its North American production by reaching tentative agreement Tuesday on a new labor contract at a key parts factory.

The local contract with the United Auto Workers union covers 870 workers at the Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems plant in Oak Creek, Wis., near Milwaukee. The plant supplies catalytic converters for virtually all GM cars and trucks made in North America and some produced overseas.

Details of the pact were not released, pending meetings with UAW-represented workers and a ratification vote later this week, said Dan Dolan, spokesman for GM's Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems unit.

In a joint statement, the automaker and the union said the accord will "provide long-term job security ... while maintaining the competitiveness of the plant in the marketplace."

Subcontracting of UAW work, health and safety issues and job security were the top issues in the dispute.

The agreement followed a 27-hour bargaining session.

Had the plant been struck, the lack of pollution-control devices likely would have forced the automaker to idle its assembly plants across North America within a few days. That would have cost it millions of dollars a day in lost car and truck production.

Separately, negotiations resumed Tuesday in efforts to head off a threatened strike at a GM parts plant in Grand Rapids, Mich., and to settle a strike at the automaker's Pontiac East assembly plant near Detroit.

Mary Urby, a spokeswoman for GM Metal Fabricating Division, said there was no word on progress in the Grand Rapids talks. UAW spokesman Reg McGhee also said he was unaware of any developments there.

The plant makes sheet-metal body panels for cars and trucks. It employs 2,340 UAW-represented workers.

The union has extended its strike deadline hourly as talks continue. The union originally had threatened to walk out if no contract was reached by last Friday.

The Pontiac East strike enters its ninth week Wednesday. About 5,900 workers walked out April 22 in a longstanding dispute over staffing levels.

While there had been progress reported after last weekend's talks, negotiations since then have slowed down again, said sources close to the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The union wants GM to hire more workers to reduce overtime at the plant, which produces full-size Chevrolet and GMC pickups. GM says the plant is to be retooled soon to produce the next generation of pickups, which are being engineered to require fewer workers to assemble.