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UAW local ratifies contract, ends 87-day strike

July 19, 1997

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Union members at a General Motors Corp. truck assembly plant have ended the union’s longest strike against GM since 1970.

Members of the United Auto Workers ratified a tentative agreement Friday and are expected to return to work Monday at the Pontiac East truck assembly plant and GM Truck Product Center.

UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker said 93.5 percent of union members who voted approved the new agreement. The union represents about 5,850 workers at the plant.

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

The strike began April 22 after the UAW demanded that GM hire 500 more permanent workers to relieve overtime stress and allow workers to take vacations. Negotiators reached the tentative agreement Wednesday night. Details were not released.

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

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

The tentative agreement was reached the same day GM announced second quarter earnings of $2.1 billion, up 11 percent from $1.89 billion a year earlier.

``The new local agreement addresses the needs of our represented employees and enables GM to meet its pre-established competitive targets,″ GM spokesman Tom Beaman said Friday night.

Pontiac East had been without a local contract since September. It was one of several plants that still lacked local agreements months after GM and the UAW signed a national contract last fall. Local contracts cover issues specific to the individual plants.

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