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GM Strikers Cheer at End of Dispute

July 28, 1998

FLINT, Mich. (AP) _ Cheers rang out Tuesday afternoon outside the gate of the Flint Metal Center as striking workers heard their union leaders announce an end to the dispute that has idled them since early June.

``I’m so happy it’s over,″ said Arthur Newsome, 49, a steam-cleaner at the plant.

He was among about 30 United Auto Workers members who clustered around a television set at the plant to watch union officials announce the deal to end the dispute, which had dragged on for nearly two months.

An American flag waved from the back of a parked van, its pole made from pieces of picket sign sticks held together with duct tape.

Strikers shouted when UAW President Stephen Yokich spoke the magic words that the union and GM had come to terms.

``I’m feeling great,″ said Jeff Howald, 40, a truck driver for the metal center for 23 years. He clutched an early edition of The Flint Journal that announced a deal was at hand.

He said he has been on the picket line three to four times a week since the strike began. ``I’ve enjoyed the summer, but I’m ready to work,″ Howald said. ``It would have been rough if it was the winter time.″

Neil MacFadden, 43, said he has been keeping busy around the house since the strike began. He remodeled his son’s bedroom, built a home darkroom and cleaned up damage from summer thunderstorms.

MacFadden, whose wife and two children joined him on the line Tuesday, said his family had gotten ready for a strike. ``We planned for it to some extent, and we were OK,″ he said. ``But I’ve run out of projects to do that don’t take a lot of money.″

``I’m optimistic,″ he said. ``Now we can go back to work and make cars like you’re supposed to.″

Across the street at the Super K convenience store, Danita Hoganson and other employees have carefully followed the strike, which has cut into their business. She laughed and pointed toward the plant, as a chorus of horns rang out from passing cars and trucks.

``It’s been kind of hard not to pay attention,″ said Ms. Hoganson, 26.

There was relief in Traverse City, too, where Williams Chevrolet has suffered from a shortage of vehicles to sell. ``Truck lines have been real scarce _ pickups, sport utilities,″ said truck manager Rich Lewis. ``It’s about 70 percent of our business. We’re anxiously awaiting them.″

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