Auto Strikes End

By Cimini, Michael H.; Muhl, Charles J. | Monthly Labor Review, July 1995 | Go to article overview
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Auto Strikes End


Cimini, Michael H., Muhl, Charles J., Monthly Labor Review


Two separate work stoppages conducted by locals of the United Auto Workers (UAW) at General Motors Corporation (GM) and Chrysler Corporation ended when agreements were reached addressing employees' concerns over job security and health and safety issues. Some 5,500 workers represented by UAW Local 594 walked off their jobs at GM's Pontiac East truck assembly plant in Pontiac, MI, for 6 days, while 5,700 employees represented by UAW Local 685 spent 1 day on picket lines at Chrysler's Kokomo, IN, transmission plant.

The genesis of the GM strike--the seventh stoppage at the automaker in 15 months--was the closing of GM's Pontiac West plant in December 1994. Of the 1,800 UAW-represented employees at the plant, about 300 transferred to the paint and body shop at GM's Pontiac East facility, while the remaining 1,500 were laid off, but received full pay and benefits (inclusive of unemployment compensation) under provisions of GM's master contract.

As part of its overall corporate strategy to relocate idled workers to facilities with labor shortages, GM sought to transfer the 1,500 laid-off workers to other plants no more than 50 miles from Pontiac, including a truck assembly plant in Flint, MI. Local 584 refused to allow its members to be transferred to plants outside Pontiac, and instead proposed a recall of idled employees to the Pontiac East facility. According to the union, the recall would allow current employees to be relieved of extensive overtime and also afford GM the opportunity to schedule new work at the plant. Furthermore, according to the union, transferring employees could reduce their seniority at new locations, making them vulnerable to future layoffs and transfers. According to press reports, Local 594 also feared losing its members to other UAW locals if they were transferred out to other plants.

When the parties failed to resolve the issue of how to deal with former Pontiac West employees, workers at Pontiac East struck, wiping out one-third of GM's capacity to build C/K fullsized pickups and Sierra trucks sold by the Chevrolet and GMC truck lines.

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