LORDSTOWN GM plant's union manages to save jobs, keep work here

The union will keep 140 jobs as it retains the building of instrument panel sections.
LORDSTOWN -- The union at the General Motors' car assembly plant here is claiming its third recent victory in stopping work from being sent to outside suppliers.
Keeping assembly of the instrument panel section inside the plant will save about 140 union positions, said John Mohan, shop chairman of United Auto Workers Local 1112.
GM had announced in July that it wanted to send that work to a supplier but agreed recently to allow Local 1112 workers to retain the work.
GM is reviewing the entire production process at the plant as it prepares to build a new small car model at the plant in 2004. A $550 million renovation of the assembly plant and adjacent fabrication plant is just beginning.
A labor contract allows the union to bid on work that GM wants to send to suppliers.
Mohan said Local 1112 officials demonstrated to GM that the work could be done with higher quality and at a lower cost inside the plant.
The construction of the instrument panel section, which includes the steering wheel, will be done off the assembly line when the plant renovation is completed, Mohan said. Now, that section is built as the cars move down the line.
Using the company's engineering plans, the union developed an efficient production method, Mohan said.
Why it's important
Mohan said saving this work is important because building the instrument panel section has been given to suppliers at many other assembly plants in recent years.
Dan Flores, a GM spokesman, wouldn't comment on the instrument panel but said GM and the union are continuing to discuss a variety of issues related to the plant renovation.
Mohan said a couple smaller outsourcing issues still are being negotiated.
"They keep trying to find cheaper ways to do it, and we try to keep it in house," he said.
Late last year, GM agreed to keep motor and wheel work inside the plant that it had previously announced would be sent to suppliers. That work amounted to 200 jobs.
Set up plants
Two Michigan companies had set up plants in the area to handle that work. Android Industries moved into a industrial building in Vienna, where it planned to prepare engines for cars assembled at Lordstown. Android will not do that work but will continue supplying the plant with suspension parts.
Oakley Industries built a new plant near the assembly plant to prepare tires for the Lordstown cars, but isn't using the plant.
GM hasn't announced how many workers will be needed to build the new small cars, but said it expects to need fewer workers because of design changes to the car and new production methods.
The plant, which makes the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire, has about 4,400 hourly workers, but that number is expected to fall after the plant is remodeled. Workers who retire aren't expected to be replaced.
GM hasn't released the design or name for the small car.

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