09 December 2011

UAW Continues Negotiations

Story first appeared in the Detroit Free Press.

The UAW is continuing to negotiate with a General Motors supplier owned by the Ambassador Bridge's Moroun family, but union leaders are considering whether to protest or even strike the supplier's operations inside GM's Orion Township plant.

The union had planned to protest LINC Logistics on Wednesday morning, but called off those plans ahead of a renewed effort to make progress in contract negotiations. Talks continued into the evening Wednesday, said Pat Sweeney, president of Orion's UAW Local 5960. This would be the LINC employees' first union contract, Sweeney said.

The outcome will determine whether the UAW takes any action. A strike could disrupt production of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact or the Buick Verano compact, which are built at the GM plant. LINC's employees, who work inside the GM factory, voted unanimously in June to strike if UAW leaders call for a walkout.

Negotiations have dragged on for months between the UAW and LINC, which organizes and distributes parts at automakers' plants. LINC workers currently make less than $10 an hour.

The Orion Township factory restarted production this year after getting a reprieve from GM's plan to close it as part of its 2009 bankruptcy. GM now employs about 1,600 hourly workers in Orion -- about 60% at the $28-an-hour first-tier wage and the rest at about $16 an hour. A couple of suppliers also have employees working inside the GM factory, in part thanks to space freed up by the plant's redesigned body shop.

Separately, the Orion Township factory had a small fire around 8 a.m. Wednesday in its body shop. GM called the fire department as a precautionary measure and evacuated the body shop, but restarted production by 9 a.m. The fire did not impact production and no one was injured.

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