UAW Says Workers Approve Contract Agreement With Delphi


Friday, June 29th 2007, 1:04 pm
By: News On 6


DETROIT (AP) _ United Auto Workers members have approved a contract agreement with auto parts maker Delphi Corp. that slashes wages and allows some plant closings but preserves jobs for thousands of workers.

The ratification comes after two years of often contentious negotiations and averts a threatened strike that would have crippled Delphi's former parent, General Motors Corp.

Sixty-eight percent of the workers who voted were in favor of the new four-year pact, while 32 percent were against it, the UAW's leadership said in a statement Friday.

About 17,000 workers at 17 Delphi facilities across the U.S. were eligible to vote on the deal, which allows some plant closings and cuts wages from $27 per hour for longtime workers to a pay range for everyone that runs from $14 to $18.50.

A total of 11,225 workers turned out for the vote, with 7,613 in favor and 3,612 voting against it, said a local union official who didn't want to be named because the breakdown of the vote had not been released by the international union.

The pact will make Delphi more competitive as it tries to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but it also clears the table for the UAW to concentrate on crucial contract talks later this summer with GM, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

The agreement makes Delphi a much stronger company in the businesses it considers to be its core: Electronics, safety systems, heating and air conditioning systems, Cole said.

``I think Delphi is really poised to be a powerhouse, because they have a technology base that is really strong,'' he said.

It also shows that the UAW is willing to bend to help companies that are struggling against lower-cost competitors, and that could be a big factor in talks with GM, Ford and Chrysler as they seek labor cost parity with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., Cole said.

GM shares fell 38 cents to $37.77 in afternoon trading, while Ford shares slipped 6 cents to $9.43 and DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares rose $1.08 to $91.98.