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- Jim Higgins
June 29, 2007, 7:49 am
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Delphi vote split, but most expect approval
Delphi Corp.'s United Auto Workers members at several plants voted to
approve a contract that includes pay cuts, but union members at one
large plant rejected the deal Thursday.
The final tally is not expected until today. The deal, if approved,
could help the Troy-based auto supplier emerge from bankruptcy and avert
a strike that would hurt General Motors Corp, the supplier's former parent.
It also could establish wage levels for other UAW suppliers and set a
tone for the national contract talks this summer between the UAW and GM,
Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group.
At Delphi's Flint East factory, where 1,200 UAW workers were eligible to
vote, 94 percent voted to approve the agreement.
"This agreement is going to secure the site for their families and the
community. This is a good agreement," said Art Reyes, president of UAW
At nearby Saginaw Steering Gear, more than 80 percent agreed to the
concessions, Reyes said.
Delphi workers in Rochester, N.Y., voted 707-378 in favor of the
agreement, according to the union local's Web site.
Officials said workers were mostly voting to approve the deal at Delphi
plants in Dayton and Sandusky, Ohio; and Grand Rapids and Adrian. Final
tallies were unavailable,
However, UAW workers at Delphi Corp.'s large factory in Lockport, N.Y.,
rejected the agreement, 1,107-274.
Delphi's large operation in Kokomo, Ind., remained a wildcard.
Daniel Hiatt, shop chairman at Local 292 in Kokomo, would not predict a
result Thursday. "We had a very good turnout," he said.
Reyes suggested that Delphi workers at plants closer to General Motors
Corp. facilities were more likely to approve the agreement, since they
could "flow back" to nearby GM plants.
"It was a pretty good deal -- we get to keep our jobs a little longer,"
said Flint East worker Joe Johnson. The 27-year-old Grand Blanc resident
voted in favor of the deal Thursday morning. He had been anxious about
the future with his wife expecting their first child soon. The deal
lowers wages for many longtime workers from about $27 per hour to a pay
scale for all workers that runs between $14 and $18.50.
Skip Dziedzic, president of UAW Local 1866 in Oak Creek, Wis., said
workers at plants already slated to close had reason to support the
deal. "I'm sure at my location it's going to pass overwhelmingly,"
Dziedzic said. "I've talked to workers, and all I've heard is, 'I'm
going to be getting an extra $15,000 to $20,000.'"
Ratification of the agreement is needed before a $3.4 billion deal to
recapitalize Delphi can be finalized. The prospective investors are led
by Appaloosa Capital Management LP. But a bankruptcy court judge could
still throw the deal open to other bidders.
Dissident union members -- angry at the contrast between the wage cuts
and the millions of dollars in retention bonuses Delphi has paid to
managers -- have mounted a campaign to persuade workers to reject the deal.
If the contract is rejected, it's not clear what Delphi and GM would do.
Asking a bankruptcy court judge to void the UAW's current contracts
could push employees to strike.
The UAW convinced Delphi to keep three more plants open than the auto
supplier had initially intended. Delphi is giving some workers up to
$105,000 over three years in exchange for accepting lower wages.
If approved, Delphi would operate four UAW plants in Grand Rapids,
Kokomo, Lockport and Rochester. GM or a third party would run Flint
East, Saginaw Chassis and the Needmore Road plant in Dayton, Ohio.
Delphi plans to run Saginaw Steering Gear and others in Adrian, Sandusky
and Cottondale, Ala., for up to a year until buyers are found.
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