COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (AP) – Facing the possibility of deep wage concessions and even job cuts, unionized workers at Delphi Corp. met yesterday to exchange information and discuss strategy.
Hourly employees of other companies in the automotive industry also attended the meeting to show their support for Delphi workers and voice concerns that they may soon find themselves in the same position.
“Anybody with any intelligence realizes we are next,” said Paul Baxter, 52, a 27-year employee of General Motors Corp. who works at the automaker’s Flint Metal Plant. “Whatever they can get out of Delphi’s workers, they’re going to try to extract from us.”
The meeting took place at a United Auto Workers union hall in the Grand Rapids suburb of Comstock Park. Although the UAW represents most of Delphi’s approximately 34,000 U.S. hourly workers, the union did not authorize the meeting.
Rather, it was a grass-roots effort organized by members of the rank and file who say they are concerned about the lack of information coming from their international union.
Telephone messages seeking comment were left at the Detroit-based headquarters of the UAW and on the cell phone voice mail of spokesman Paul Krell.
Reporters were not allowed into the meeting at the UAW Local 1231 union hall but afterward spoke with several attendees, including Tom Vis, a 32-year Delphi employee who described the meeting’s atmosphere as “apprehensive.”
“Everything’s up in the air because we don’t have information,” said Vis, 53, an electrician at a plant in Wyoming, just southwest of Grand Rapids.
He said union workers know what Robert “Steve” Miller, Delphi’s chairman and chief executive officer, wants to do, but they don’t know what the UAW is counteroffering.
The Troy-based company filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection Oct. 8 after failing to reach a restructuring agreement with the UAW and GM, its former parent company.
Delphi is GM’s former parts division. The automaker bought $14 billion in parts from Delphi last year, or around 16 percent of its total parts spending.
Delphi wants its union workers to accept pay cuts of more than 60 percent, a proposal that elicited an angry response from the UAW and other labor unions.