More than half of General Motors' car and truck plants could be shut down this week if the company does not come to terms with the UAW in Flint, Mich.
About 3,400 members of Local 659 at a metal stamping plant walked off the job Friday, June 5.
Another 5,000 workers at a Delphi parts complex in Flint that makes fuel pumps, instrument panel parts, spark plugs and other parts are threatening to walk Thursday, June 11.
The metal stamping plant presses parts for most of GM's trucks, vans and full-sized cars. If the strike persists, truck and van plants could shut down by the end of the week, and large-car plants could be affected next week.
The Delphi plant supplies virtually every GM car and truck assembly plant.
'It's a sad state of affairs that we have these continuous problems with General Motors, but we are able to work out problems with Ford and Chrysler,' UAW President Steve Yokich said.
The striking workers complain that GM has reneged on a 1997 promise to invest $300 million in the plant.
The company contends the plant has not followed through on work rule improvements that would make the plant more efficient. The company wants the striking workers to reduce job classifications.
GM has already acted to protect one of its most prized vehicles, the all-new, full-sized pickup trucks due to go on sale this fall as 1999 models.
Fearing a walkout at the plant, the company moved the stamping dies for the new trucks from the Flint plant over the Memorial Day weekend. Those dies went to a GM stamping plant in Mansfield, Ohio.
UAW officials at Local 549 in Mansfield would not comment, but some of the rank and file members are talking.
'We have to support' the Flint strike, David Kudrak told the Mansfield News Journal. 'If they're doing something to our brothers and sisters, they're doing it to us.'
Worker Tony Houston doubts the Mansfield union will take action. 'These people are not going to do nothing here,' Houston said. 'The company has a pretty good hand.'