By ED RUNYAN
The seemingly friendly relationship between General Motors Lordstown auto assembly workers and GM management during the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze has cracked a little.
A flier distributed by United Auto Workers Union Local 1112 this week calls GM management “sneaky, evasive and dishonest on many issues” and calls on the union’s workers to treat management with “the same respect that they treat us. So as of today, that’s none.”
The flier says the union is especially troubled by a GM document that spells out rules relating to skilled-trades workers at the plant and the practice of sending Cruzes out of the plant for repairs “that our membership should have been repairing.”
The union handbill also says Local 1112 learned Tuesday morning that Cruzes were going to a warehouse, believed to be on Victoria Road in Austintown, where a “third-party vendor” was doing work on “the switch and a canister” on the underside of the vehicle.
At 7:30 a.m., “We took pictures of the content of work they were doing, which pertains to us in the assembly plant,” the union flier says.
“The following day, after many heated discussions, your leadership had management agree to stop shipping vehicles to this designated area until we reach a full resolution,” says the flier, which was signed by Jim Graham, Local 1112 president and Ben Strickland, Local 1112 shop chairman.
The next step will be to discuss grievances written regarding the practice and to “bring restitution to the employees who were violated,” according to the union publication.
Tom Mock, GM Lordstown spokesman, said he was aware that Graham was talking to the media regarding the flier, but Mock said GM was “deferring comment on it.”
Graham did not return a phone call to The Vindicator seeking additional information on the dispute.
The flier said Local 1112 leadership had hoped that because of all the changes the union had agreed to in recent months and years to help make GM profitable, “we envisioned our relations would improve with management. Unfortunately, we were mistaken because it has not happened.”
The flier says meetings are planned for Monday at GM’s Center of Human Resources in Detroit between the company and the UAW union to determine whether the company is following the UAW’s national agreement regarding work performed by skilled-trades employees.
“Our position is that they are violating the national agreement and overstepping their boundaries,” the flier says.
In 2007 and 2009, the UAW and General Motors agreed to reduce the number of skilled-trades classifications to cut costs by having employees cross train and do more types of work than in the past.