Indianapolis GM plant shot down by labor dispute

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The United Auto Workers logo, a "heart" symbol and the GM and Fiat logos.

There's no love lost between UAW members and GM lately. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/SPBCAR.ru/Autonews Frontline)

Automotive News reports that after voting down a proposed 50 percent worker pay cut, United Auto Workers (UAW) employees have declined to sign a contract with General Motors. This could close down a major sheet metal stamping plant in Indianapolis, as GM had previously stated their intention of closing the plant unless the facility was sold. Without workers on board with contracts, potential new ownership has a decided lack of incentive to buy the plant.

UAW rep booed off stage for negotiating without consent

Recently, 416 of 625 UAW Local 23 union members in the Indianapolis area got together to cast their votes regarding their potential contracts at the plant as it passed from GM’s hands. Union rep Gregory Clark told Automotive News that while the “no” vote was officially mail-in, the UAW wanted a video representation of their outrage against the drastic salary proposal. UAW workers rejected the deal tentatively negotiated between UAW International and J.D. Norman Industries, the Illinois stamping company that is the potential plant buyer. Negotiations have been controversial, as UAW workers voted not to negotiate concessions with J.D. Norman, but UAW International went ahead without member consent and did so anyway. Needless to saw, when a UAW International rep tried to present the concession-laden plan to members, he was booed off the stage (see video below).

Again, without acceptance of the concessions, the Indianapolis plant will likely close. However, UAW Region 3 has told its members that they would have the right to transfer to other GM plants in the event of closure. Yet 3,600 national GM layoffs currently in effect could make such a proposition difficult. Those jobs are currently held by temporary workers.

Concessions that would lead to food stamps

According to workers surveyed, acceptance of the drastic pay cut would put average plant annual salaries below $30,000. For a family of four in Indiana, that easily qualifies for state assistance. While the proposed contract had a “buydown” provision that would have compensated production workers $25,000 apiece spread over two years for the lost wages, union members wouldn’t swallow the pill.

Sources:

Automotive News

Local 23 meeting re. International UAW (audio sometimes difficult to distinguish)

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