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Strike deadline extended at Delco Remy, talks go beyond it

March 22, 1997

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) _ Delco Remy America Inc. and the United Auto Workers agreed shortly after midnight to extend contract negotiations while more than 1,900 employees prepared to walk off their jobs if necessary.

The strike deadline was extended to 2 a.m. EST. Saturday, but talks continued beyond that time, and the workers were still on the job.

Delco spokesman John Pyzik said shortly before midnight the company and UAW Local 662 were making progress, but union employees weren’t so optimistic.

Iva Higgs, a Delco employee since 1994 said union members were prepared to strike and she expected to be out for at least two weeks.

``You’ve got to take a stand for what you believe in,″ she said.

The UAW set a strike deadline after months of talks with Delco Remy, the fourth company formerly owned by GM to renegotiate its labor contract in recent months.

A strike would disrupt the flow of starter motors for cars and light trucks to GM, Delco Remy’s largest customer. But it was unknown how soon GM would see its own production hampered.

The UAW wants Delco Remy to pay workers the same wages and benefits earned by its members under the Big Three national contract negotiated last fall. Local 662 is also demanding that 440 temporary workers in Anderson be given permanent status and full benefits.

Delco Remy’s pay under the current agreement is higher than its competitors, the company said, adding that to adopt the new GM contract would make it difficult for the company to remain competitive.

Delco Remy, which also makes auto electronic components, employs about 1,400 workers at six plants in Anderson and 550 at two plants in Meridian, Miss.

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