Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Delphi temps get hired

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Delphi temps get hired
Under deal with UAW, workers employed to replace those who took buyouts will get permanent jobs.
Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Thousands of temporary workers Delphi Corp. hired at lower wages and benefits to replace UAW members taking buyouts will become permanent employees under an agreement reached Tuesday between the bankrupt supplier and the union.

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger announced that a deal was finalized during the second of two live online question-and-answer sessions Tuesday with union members.

Gettelfinger also said the UAW will hold the line next year in contract negotiations with Detroit automakers, which are expected to be difficult as the struggling companies try to win more cost cuts and the union works to preserve jobs, wages and benefits.

"It's too early to predict the outcome of any negotiations, but it is not our intention to go backwards in the '07 bargaining," Gettelfinger said. "There is no use in publicly discussing the strategies we will employ."

The UAW must protect the controversial jobs bank programs, Gettelfinger said. The programs have become an icon for union excesses because they require General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group to pay idled workers after unemployment benefits run out, even if there is no work for them.

Thousands of employees have effectively been paid not to work, a practice Wall Street has ridiculed.

The contracts between the UAW and the Detroit Three expire in September 2007. Gettelfinger said Tuesday that talks on a new labor agreement will begin in July. The union will decide in August which automaker to negotiate with first, he said, adding that he will be seeking another four-year deal.

Gettelfinger said details of the new agreement on making temporary Delphi workers permanent will be released today. But the terms were outlined in a memo sent Tuesday to officials at UAW locals across the country.

Skip Dziedzic, president of UAW Local 1866 in Oak Creek, Wis., said temporary workers hired on or before Nov. 20 will become permanent, except for contract or temporary workers who accepted buyout offers from Delphi or GM, Delphi's former parent.

"We've already received a number of calls from temporary workers thanking us," he said. "We've been waiting for this a long time."

About 250 of 400 workers at his plant are temporary.

Thousands of temporary workers have been hired to replace some 12,400 Delphi employees who took buyout packages earlier this year. They have been ineligible for most of the benefits enjoyed by permanent workers the UAW represents. Most are making $14 an hour -- about half what permanent workers make doing the same jobs.

The new accord didn't stop Gettelfinger from lashing out at Delphi Chairman and CEO Steve Miller and vowing to continue the union's struggle against the supplier.

"The battle with Delphi is far from over," he declared. "In the final analysis, our membership will have the last word. Eventually, this process will require them to meet with our union."

Delphi is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has asked the bankruptcy judge to void its contracts with the UAW and other unions. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain has scheduled another meeting between the parties on Nov. 30 and says he will rule on Delphi's request on Jan. 31.

Gettelfinger urged Delphi workers to keep the faith.

"I know this is very frustrating and has been since Miller and his cronies came on board July 1, 2005, with the sole intent of putting this company in bankruptcy," he said. "I hope you find some comfort in knowing that without a union these greedy executives could and would trample on workers with no concern."

Delphi did not respond to requests for comment on the temporary workers agreement with the UAW. The company said earlier Tuesday that it would not comment on discussions between union members and their leaders.

Delphi, the UAW and GM have been trying to work out a deal to lower wages for workers who did not sign up for buyouts or take early retirement.

"We are still committed to reaching a consensual agreement," Delphi spokeswoman Claudia Piccinin said Tuesday.

Gettelfinger said the company has been unwilling to engage the union. "Our union has been available to meet with the corporation at any time, day or night," he said. "But honestly, at this time, there has been very little discussion."

Gettelfinger was quick to dismiss recent comments by GM Chairman Rick Wagoner that suggested progress is being made.

"The discussions Mr. Wagoner is referencing are just that -- discussions between Delphi and GM," Gettelfinger said.

However, Troy Clarke, president of GM's North American division, insisted progress is being made on the Delphi front.

"We're moving forward and all parties are addressing the issues with an appropriate sense of urgency," Clarke said Tuesday.

Staff Writer Sharon Terlep contributed to this report. You can reach Bryce Hoffman at (313) 222-2443 or

© Copyright 2006 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.


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