From the Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — General Motors Corp. vowed Monday that strike threats by a dissident faction of the United Auto Workers (UAW) would not disrupt negotiations between the automaker and Delphi Corp. to bail the parts supplier out of bankruptcy.
“I think the UAW, Delphi and GM understand the importance of reaching a resolution that will allow Delphi to remain an important supplier to GM, which is in the best interest of our shareholders,” said Jerry Dubrowski, a GM spokesman. “We have an ongoing dialog with the UAW on this issue.”
The Soldiers of Solidarity, a UAW faction, has threatened to picket the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month and to slow down production at Delphi plants to protest the supplier’s recent proposals to drastically cut wages and benefits.
Delphi, which filed for bankruptcy Oct. 8, has proposed that UAW workers earning an average base pay of $27 an hour would have their wages cut to $12.50 an hour.
Delphi has blamed high wage costs for helping put it in bankruptcy. Members of Soldiers of Solidarity say they want to hold GM accountable for putting Delphi in bankruptcy. Their strategy is to draw attention to their cause by picketing the auto show and to slow Delphi production, which in turn would affect Delphi’s largest customer, GM.
Directors of the North American International Auto Show had no comment on the picket threat as of late Monday. The picket, scheduled for Jan. 8, would occur during the auto show’s media preview
UAW spokesman Paul Krell said the Soldiers of Solidarity are well within their right to organize. “It’s a democratic union,” Krell said.
The dissident group has become a thorn in the union’s side, but the UAW might be able to use the group’s threats as leverage in negotiating deals with Delphi and GM, says one industry observer.
“It really works to the benefit of the UAW because they could use the threat of a strike to create leverage in negotiations with the GM and Delphi,” said Robert Chiaravalli, a principal of consulting firm Strategic Labor & Human Resources in West Bloomfield, MI.
“They used to say that Jimmy Hoffa rarely had a strike planned but mastered using the threat of a strike,” Chiaravalli said, referring to the late Teamsters leader.
Soldiers of Solidarity, which has hosted meetings nationwide trumpeting what it calls the UAW’s inefficiency, is becoming more vocal at a crucial time for UAW negotiations with its major employers.
The UAW’s executive leaders approved a revised health-care plan for Ford Motor Co.’s UAW employees, patterned after a health-care deal it worked out with GM. The UAW Ford Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday and is expected to share details with the media later that day.
Copyright (c) 2005, Detroit Free Press
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