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Archive for Tuesday, June 9, 1998

GM STRIKE SHUTS DOWN AREA PLANT

June 9, 1998

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About 1,500 workers were affected in Kansas City, where GM employs nearly 4,000 people at area plants.

Detroit (ap) -- General Motors Corp. on Monday idled two assembly plants and prepared to shutter others as a strike at a Michigan stamping factory began to cause shortages of hoods, fenders, doors and other sheet-metal parts.

Negotiations continued at the Flint Metal Center, where the strike by nearly 3,400 workers entered its fourth day. The dispute is largely over work rules and staffing levels.

Norm McComb, a vice president for UAW Local 659, said there had been no progress in the talks. GM declined to comment.

With the flow of parts cut off for a variety of GM's light trucks and full-size cars, the first of 16 North American assembly plants supplied by Flint began to feel the strike's effects:

  • The automaker closed its Orion Township plant outside Detroit. About 2,800 hourly workers on the early shift were sent home and about 1,100 were kept to do maintenance and repairs, spokesman Gerry Holmes said. The plant makes five full-size cars: the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight and Aurora, Buick Riviera and Park Avenue, and Pontiac Bonneville.
  • The Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan., which makes the Pontiac Grand Prix and Oldsmobile Intrigue, was closed after Monday's day shift. The shutdown affected 1,455 workers. GM employs about 4,000 people at two Kansas City-area plants.
  • The light truck plant in suburban Moraine, Ohio, will be closed today. Workers there worked reduced five-hour shifts Monday. The plant makes GM's midsize sport utility vehicles, including the Chevrolet Blazer. About 4,300 workers were affected.
  • Shifts also were reduced to five hours at the plant in Oshawa, Ontario, which makes the Chevrolet Lumina and Monte Carlo. There was no word on whether the plant would operate today.
  • UAW officials in Flint said they also expected the Buick City car assembly plant to close by today. The plant employs about 3,000 hourly workers making Buick LeSabre and Pontiac Bonneville sedans.

Meanwhile, the company, the nation's largest automaker, began production of its redesigned full-size pickup at its Oshawa truck plant, said an industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The pickup is GM's best-selling vehicle and among its most profitable.

Company officials said only that the truck's production was on schedule.

Before the strike began, GM moved dies for the new truck from Flint to a stamping plant in Ohio. Union officials said that action during the Memorial Day weekend, when the Flint plant was closed, made the strike inevitable.

``When GM came in there and stole those dies, that just poured a bunch of gas on the fire,'' said the UAW's McComb.

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