Strike by supplier threatens GM plant

By Don Shilling

A strike threat eases at a factory that supplies the Lordstown assembly plant.

LORDSTOWN — The General Motors’ car plant here appears to have avoided one shutdown threat while another remains.

The Lordstown plant has been threatened with shortages of parts from two sources.

One of those threats is close to being resolved because of a tentative contract agreement reached at a GM plant in Parma. The Detroit News reported that the settlement was critical because the plant makes components for the cars made in Lordstown, the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. The Parma plant produces transmission components and also stamps out a variety of other metal parts.

United Auto Workers Local 1005 in Parma plans to hold a vote on the agreement Sunday. The UAW issued a strike warning at the plant last week.

Passage of the Parma contract would still leave another threat to Lordstown.

UAW Local 1112 in Lordstown has said that operations are threatened by a potential shortage of a brake spindle that is produced by American Axle. A UAW local has been on strike against that company since Feb. 26.

Local union leaders have informed their members that the Lordstown plant could be shut down next week because of the parts shortage.

Bargaining between American Axle and the UAW was continuing Thursday. Union leaders told The Detroit News that they offered a broad proposal Wednesday that countered the company’s demands to drastically cut workers’ wages and benefits. About 3,600 workers at plants in Michigan and New York are off the job.

Another issue that still needs to be resolved is a new local labor contract at Lordstown. GM and the UAW agreed to a national contract on pay and benefits last year, but many plants still don’t have agreements on local issues, such as work rules.

The company and union haven’t released details on the status of local talks in Lordstown.

The Detroit News said, however, that job guarantees for workers and a deep reduction in the number of skilled-trades job classifications have been sticking points in the talks in Parma and four other plants where strike warnings were issued.

Union leaders in Parma told the newspaper that GM wants to broaden the job descriptions of skilled trade workers. The workers, who are paid more than production workers, normally are trained for narrowly defined tasks.

In the past few rounds of negotiations, GM has been pushing for fewer job classifications at plants, which allows plants to be more efficient because workers can perform more tasks.

The Lordstown assembly plant has about 2,400 hourly workers, while an adjacent fabricating plant has about 1,000.

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