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7,200 Idled by Latest UAW Walkout at GM Plant

September 26, 1992

LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ The second United Auto Workers strike in a month at a General Motors Corp. parts plant halted production of the company’s second-best-selling car.

Talks were to resume today in an effort to settle the dispute before GM loses substantial production of its Pontiac Grand Am.

UAW spokesman Reg McGhee in Detroit said he understood the two sides had few issues left on which to agree, ″but the ones that are left are big ones.″

The strike by 4,200 workers Friday quickly affected the plant where the Grand Am and the slower-selling Oldsmobile Achieva and Buick Skylark are assembled. The assembly plant’s shutdown idled 3,000 other workers.

An uncertain number of components plants could be threatened as soon as next week, depending on how long the strike by Local 602 lasts, GM spokeswoman Linda McGill said.

A nine-day strike at a parts plant in Lordstown, Ohio, temporarily idled nine GM assembly plants before it was settled Sept. 5.

″The whole thing really boils down to manpower issues,″ said Dick Bennett, bargaining chairman for Local 602. ″It’s not a matter of speeding up, it’s reductions within the workforce that loads up the jobs for the other people to have to try and contend with.″

A major roadblock to settlement is a change in the way breaks are taken that is eliminating as many as 350 ″tag relief″ workers. In August, GM switched the plant breaks to ″mass relief,″ in which all workers take breaks at the same time and the production line stops.

GM had a 58-day supply of Grand Ams as of Sept. 1, slightly below the industry average of 60-65 days. But inventories of the slower-selling Achieva and Skylark were bloated at 95 and 120 days, respectively, according to the trade journal Ward’s Automotive Reports.

Relations between the UAW and GM have become tense since the automaker announced plans last December to close 21 plants and cut 54,000 U.S. hourly jobs by 1995.

The UAW’s national contract with GM expires next September, but the issuance of 15 strike notices at GM plants since the last national agreement in 1990 shows the union’s resolve in settling local contract violations that might previously have been settled short of a strike threat.

GM faces another possible walkout at a plant in Anderson, Ind., although negotiations are continuing and the UAW has not issued an official strike warning. The plant provides most exterior lighting for 95 percent of GM’s North American plants. Its shutdown would eventually cripple production at those plants.

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