THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
Lear workers have authorized a strike for Friday night if talks fail to produce an agreement.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
LORDSTOWN -- Union and General Motors officials are optimistic that contract talks at Lear Seating in Lordstown will avert a strike that would affect production at GM's Lordstown Assembly Plant.
Talks between Lear and United Auto Workers officials are continuing today in advance of a strike deadline at midnight Friday. Lear workers voted two weeks ago to authorize their leaders to call a strike.
Darwin Cooper, vice president of UAW Local 1112, said he was told this morning that talks were progressing well and he expects the two sides to settle at the bargaining table.
Tom Mock, a GM spokesman, said plant officials were told this morning that talks at the Lear plant were going well so no advance preparations are being made for a strike.
Local 1112 represents about 4,500 workers at the car assembly plant and about 320 people at the nearby Lear plant, which makes seats for cars built at the assembly plant. The union has separate bargaining teams for both plants.
Effect on GM: Jim Graham, Local 1112 president, said earlier this month that a strike at Lear would quickly affect production at the car plant, which makes the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire. If the assembly plant doesn't have seats, it can't make cars, he said.
GM's just-in-time delivery ties Cavalier and Sunfire production closely to Lear production, and the seating plant generally delivers seats to the GM plant daily.
A spokeswoman at Lear's corporate office in Michigan could not be reached for comment.
Union officials are not discussing the issues in this round of bargaining. Lear workers received a 43 percent pay increase over three years when they ratified their first contract in August 1998. Seat assemblers now make $15 an hour.
The contract included a 401(k) savings plan, but no defined-benefit pension plan like those included in UAW contracts at GM plants.