DETROIT -- Unions representing workers at eight Tower Automotive Inc. plants voted to authorize a strike if a bankruptcy court judge approves the auto parts supplier's motion to void labor contracts.
The vote was approved by more than 95 percent of Tower employees represented by the UAW, the United Steelworkers and the IUE/CWA. The vote was held at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana on Saturday, Jan. 28, and Sunday, Jan. 29. A plant in Ohio is expected to reveal its results Monday night, according to a UAW press release.
Tower, of Novi, Mich., moved to set aside union contracts and modify retirement benefits Jan. 4. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.
The supplier filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in February. In bankruptcy court documents, Tower outlined a plan to close plants and slash its work force in North America.
Tower is the world's largest vehicle frame maker and a critical supplier to domestic automakers, which made up 73.4 percent of its North American business in 2005. Ford Motor Co. has the largest portion, 38.1 percent, according to court documents.
Ford had no comment on the vote, a spokesman said in a email message..
UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the union's Independents, Parts and Suppliers Department, said in a prepared statement: "We want to preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs and keep Tower as an active participant in the U.S. automotive industry. Unfortunately, Tower's reorganization plan is a recipe for failure -- it takes money from workers, enriches executives and does nothing to really fix the company. We will have no part of it."
Sharon Wenzl, Tower vice president of communications, told Automotive News that the suppliers salaried and non-union workers made $32 million in concessions in 2005.
We need our union colleagues to participate in a fair and equitable manner, she said
Tower ranks No. 45 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $3.2 billion in 2004.
You may e-mail Greg Migliore at [email protected]