GM workers walk out: Local Delphi plant not affected by strike, yet

PERKINS TWP. As thousands of United Auto Workers across the nation were picketing Monday aga
Janet
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

As thousands of United Auto Workers across the nation were picketing Monday against General Motors Corp., it was business as usual at the local Delphi plant.

The plant wasn't affected by the strike.

The Hayes Avenue plant manufactures wheel spindle bearings for GM.

In 1999, GM spun off a number of plants, including the local one, into Delphi Automotive Systems,a separate company.

If the strike was to continue, UAW Local 913 president Ralph Brumby said it is possible workers could be laid off.

United Auto Workers Local 913 represents about 800 workers at Delphi.

"I'm concerned it might affect our people," Brumby said. "It would have an impact on our plant."

However, Brumby said he is confident an agreement will be made between the union and thecompany.

"I am assured the UAW will do what is in the best interest for GM and, in return, what is best for us," he said.

A strike at the Delphi plant is not an option since UAW members voted in June to approve the company's newest contract. But that doesn't mean members aren't supporting the UAW.

"We support the strike," Brumby said. "We're standing behind our brothers and sisters at GM."

Leon Kimberlin has worked at Delphi for a little more than a year. He believes that if the plant were to be affected, many workers would be left without jobs.

"There will probably be some pretty heavy layoffs," he said.

As of now, GM is struggling to pay its workers competitive wages and benefits because of foreign competition, Kimberlin explained. The UAW, from what he understands, is fighting to keep the wages and benefits from being slashed.

"If (the strike) is to keep that, I'm supportive of that," he said.

A Delphi employee who has worked at the plant for almost 30 years said he believes Monday's events were a little too late.

"I support them striking, but I think they should have struck a long time ago ... when it spun off Delphi," the worker said, asking to remain anonymous. "It's just another step of General Motors selling us out."

UAW members across the nation walked off their jobs at General Motors Corp. plants at 11 a.m. Monday to picket after the automaker and the union couldn't reach a settlement nine days after their contract expired on Sept. 14.

Negotiations became bogged down Sunday, apparently over the union's quest to protect jobs by getting the company to guarantee new vehicles would be built in U.S. factories. Monday's event was the first nationwide strike called by the UAW since 1976, when Ford Motor Co. plants were shut down. In 1996, there were strikes at two GM plants during contract negotiations.

Last year several workers from the local Delphi plant transferred to a GM plant in Parma as part of an agreement that allowed workers to "flow back" to GM.

A former Delphi employee, who opted for the flow back, said the events that transpired Monday began eight years ago when GM spun off Delphi.

"Delphi is a steppingstone for the moves GM is making today," he said.

The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, walked out of work Monday, joining thousands of other UAW members across the nation. He believes what the company is asking from its workers is too much.

"We've already given concessions," he said. "The UAW walked stride for stride for these guys ... we've all made cuts, and they want more."

The worker said he believes the strike will eventually affect all of the company's parts suppliers.

"As far as when, I don't know that timeline," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.