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Tentative agreement reached at GM Romulus plant

October 29, 1997

DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday on a contract at a plant that produces engine supplies for some high-profit cars, a GM spokeswoman said.

The UAW Local 163, with 1,300 members, has been without a contract since September 1996, making the Romulus plant the last GM production facility without a local contract. GM signed a national contract with the UAW last year.

The local had threatened a strike at the Powertrain engine plant in the Detroit suburb if no agreement on a new local contract was reached by 11:59 p.m. EST Tuesday. The agreement was reached right at the deadline, GM spokeswoman Marilynn Rowe said.

``Certainly, we’re pleased that we were able to reach a tentative local agreement without a work stoppage,″ she said.

She declined to provide details of the agreement.

The agreement was reached moments after Reg McGhee, a UAW spokesman, announced that the UAW had agreed to continue talks past the strike deadline because the two sides were so close. McGhee could not be immediately reached for comment.

Workers at the plant were hesitant to talk without knowing details of the contract. Chuck Thomas, a monitor in the plant’s ergonomics department who has been with GM for 29 years, said he had mixed emotions about the settlement.

``Basically, I think in a strike nobody really wins,″ he said. ``I have to see the contract.″

McGhee said earlier that contract talks centered on issues of staffing levels, health and safety and subcontracting.

The plant makes V8 engines for high-performance cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. It also makes V6 engines for sport utilities such as the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy.

A GM plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., also makes the sport utility engines, but the Romulus plant is the lone source of Corvette engines. A strike would have slowed production of the high-profit car, said Chris Cedergren, an analyst with Nextrend.

GM has faced six strikes so far this year, four of them involving the UAW. Second-quarter strikes in Pontiac and Oklahoma City cost GM an estimated $490 million after taxes from lost production of 96,000 cars and trucks.

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