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GM workers ratify tentative agreement

July 19, 1997

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ United Auto Workers members idled since April at a General Motors Corp. truck assembly plant ratified an agreement Friday to end the three-month strike.

UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker said 93.5 percent of union members who voted approved the new agreement. The union declined to say how many workers voted.

About 5,850 workers represented by UAW Local 594 are expected to return to work Monday.

``It’s time for us to get back to work. Families need to be fed,″ said union member Christine Stempien.

Negotiators for the union and the automaker reached a tentative agreement Wednesday night in the walkout that began April 22 at the Pontiac East plant and the GM Truck Product Center, north of Detroit. The union wanted GM to hire 500 more workers to relieve overtime stress and allow workers to take vacations.

Officials of Local 594 gave details of the accord to workers Friday before the ratification vote.

Details of the new agreement have not yet been released, but GM spokesman Tom Beaman said Friday night that it ``addresses the needs of our represented employees and enables GM to meet its preestablished competitive targets.″

The plant makes full-size Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks.

GM has said that strike and a shorter UAW walkout at an Oklahoma City assembly plant in April and May had cost it $490 million in lost production during the second quarter.

The tentative agreement was reached hours after the automaker announced second-quarter earnings of $2.1 billion, up 11 percent from a year ago.

The automaker faces strikes at two other parts plants in Michigan and Indiana next week.

The plants, if shut down, would cripple the flow of crucial parts to several North American assembly plants.

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