Hundreds of temporary Delphi Corp. factory workers who had hoped to be made permanent hires next month must wait until at least Dec. 31 to learn their fates.
Meanwhile, a showdown in U.S. Bankruptcy Court between Delphi and the UAW to terminate union contracts was postponed again last week.
UAW Local 699, which represents workers at Delphi's Saginaw Steering plant in Michigan, notified temporary employees of the change in their status in a bulletin last week.
The union local said negotiations are continuing to determine how many workers Delphi needs to replace workers taking early retirement.
"While this agreement between the national parties means your transition to permanent status is delayed, it does not mean you will not be made permanent employees," the bulletin said. It was signed by local Chairman Tom Basner and President Mike Hanley.
Delphi has hired thousands of temporary workers since May to keep its 29 U.S. plants operating. General Motors is financing early retirements and buyouts of Delphi's 33,000-person union work force. Delphi was spun off by GM in 1999.
The IUE-CWA electrical union announced last week that 6,300 of its 8,500 Delphi members had taken a buyout or retired. They join 13,000 UAW Delphi workers who have done the same.
Temporary workers at Delphi earn $14 an hour with no benefits. Permanent employees start at Delphi at the same wage but get health insurance and other benefits. Senior workers at Delphi earn about $28 an hour, with the industry's best benefits.
Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams says the company is negotiating with the UAW to determine the status of temporary workers based on its future manufacturing needs.
Only national agreements, not local hiring promises, will be enforced, Williams says.
The early retirements and buyouts continue to relieve pressure for a strike at Delphi.
The Troy, Mich., company is restructuring its U.S. operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Delphi is asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York to end its labor agreements with about 33,000 union workers.
Those workers earn about twice as much as what Delphi's U.S. competitors pay comparable employees, the company says.
Last week, a hearing on the petition was delayed until Sept. 18 as Delphi, GM and the unions try to negotiate new agreements. The UAW and IUE-CWA have vowed to strike Delphi if the court terminates the contracts.
Strike would shut down GM
A strike at Delphi, which supplies GM with about $14 billion a year in parts, would quickly shut down the automaker.
But the impetus for a strike is evaporating. Only about 9,000 union employees who worked at Delphi before the supplier filed for Chapter 11 protection Oct. 8 will remain at the company a year from now.
That is about the number Delphi will need in the eight plants it intends to keep open in the United States as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy next year.
You may e-mail Dave Barkholz at [email protected]