Delphi hourly workers hold protests at plants


Monday, November 28th 2005, 10:57 am
By: News On 6


DETROIT (AP) _ Delphi Corp. hourly workers protested the company's executive compensation plan in pickets Tuesday at the auto supplier's plants, the United Auto Workers said.

Delphi, which filed for bankruptcy last month, was originally scheduled to defend the compensation plan in bankruptcy court Tuesday, but that hearing was postponed until Jan. 5. UAW spokesman Paul Krell said local unions decided to go ahead with their protests.

The plan would give stock options and cash bonuses to around 600 executives when Delphi emerges from bankruptcy. Delphi also wants to extend severance packages from 12 to 18 months for some key executives. Delphi says the plan is necessary to keep its executive team in place during the bankruptcy process.

Krell said the UAW was encouraging its 23 Delphi local unions to hold informational pickets. Events were planned across the country, he said. In Kokomo, Ind., workers were scheduled to picket at all plant entrances for most of the day, while a large rally was planned for Wednesday in Lockport, N.Y., according to union Web sites.

``We encouraged Delphi locals to do some sort of activity to raise public awareness of the employee compensation plan,'' Krell said. ``This rewards a select group of Delphi executives, people who in many cases were at the helm when Delphi got in trouble.''

A message seeking comment was left with a Delphi spokeswoman.

Delphi Chairman and CEO Robert S. ``Steve'' Miller told employees about the pickets in a voice mail message, according to a union group in Indiana. The group posted a transcript of Miller's message Tuesday.

``Our unions have the right to share their point of view with their membership, and while we certainly disagree on some major points, we understand that these are to be for information only and we don't expect any disruptions to our operations,'' Miller said.

Unions have been angered by Delphi's attempt to cut hourly wages while boosting benefits for executives. Delphi has proposed lowering wages of production workers from $27 an hour to $10 to $12.50 an hour.

``If Delphi is serious about restarting discussions, taking that insulting proposal off the table would be a good place to start,'' UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Vice President Richard Shoemaker said Monday in a joint statement.

Gettelfinger and Shoemaker were responding to Delphi's announcement that it is negotiating with its former parent, General Motors Corp., on a bailout plan for workers that could help avoid a strike. Delphi had planned to ask a judge to reject its union contracts Dec. 16 but said Monday it will delay that until Jan. 20.

The UAW and other unions aren't the only groups that have protested Delphi's compensation plan. Last week, a group of investors including public pension funds in Oklahoma and Mississippi filed an objection to the plan in bankruptcy court. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which ensures pension plans when companies fail to meet their obligations, also has filed an objection.