GM, union reach agreement on schedule changes

The agreement means workers will be at the plant 24 minutes longer.
LORDSTOWN -- Workers at General Motors' Lordstown Assembly Plant will be on the line 11 minutes longer and give up a paid lunch, but they will be able to go home instead of spending their last break at the plant.
Plant and union officials settled their differences Thursday over management's desire to change shift schedules at the plant, which employs about 4,300 hourly workers. New shifts are effective Feb. 4.
John Mohan, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 1112, said the changes are designed to help the plant meet production goals without overtime. Now, workers sometimes stay on the line for short periods after their shifts to produce more cars, he said.
Under the new schedule, changes in break and lunch times will mean the workers will be on the line 11 more minutes a shift, he said.
Workers will receive a longer morning break but will have an unpaid lunch break instead of a paid one.
National contract: The union was unable to stop these changes because they are in line with the national contract, which provides for two 23-minute breaks and a 30-minute unpaid lunch or a 20-minute paid lunch, Mohan said.
He said the changes are acceptable, however, because management withdrew its proposal for workers to stay at the plant during their afternoon break. This was the major issue in talks over the shift change proposal this week, he said.
Can go home early: The agreement allows workers to go home at the start of the afternoon break and provides that the break be 30 minutes -- longer than provided for in the national contract.
The day shift, for example, will be scheduled to work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a half-hour lunch. Workers will be able to leave at 3 p.m., however, because that is the start of their afternoon break.
Under the current schedule, the day shift starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m., but workers are able to leave at 2:36 p.m.
Plant and union officials have said Lordstown's break schedule became different from those at other GM plants in 1991 when it tried a new shift schedule to try to boost production and cut overtime. Weekly shifts consisted of four 10-hour days. Workers were paid for 44 or 48 hours, depending on which days they worked.
In 1998, however, GM negotiated a return to eight-hour daily schedules, saying the previous arrangement wasn't cutting costs.
Mohan said the current break schedule was designed to provide extra time between the end of day shift and start of afternoon shift to allow time for cleaning of paint booths. New methods allow that work to be done in smaller amounts of time, however, so it now will be done on break time on each shift, he said.

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