Seeking 'living wage'
The union is fighting for what it calls a "living wage" for LINC workers, who currently earn less than $10 an hour, the UAW's Sweeney said. The straight-time annual wages for a worker earning $10 an hour is $20,800, less than the federal poverty line for a family of four.
Sweeney said a strike authorization would give the UAW the option to strike after a short waiting period, though the union wants to resolve the issue without a work stoppage. He said the number of LINC employees at Orion could double by the time the plant reaches full production.
"We want to get these negotiations behind us and launch this great product," Sweeney said.
GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said the automaker does not expect the strike-authorization vote and UAW's negotiations with LINC to affect the Sonic launch.
But it's not clear how many UAW workers at the assembly plant would be willing to cross a picket line if a strike is called.
The UAW local has initial contracts to negotiate with at least three other parts suppliers operating at the plant, Sweeney said.
Only GM's Shreveport, (La.) Assembly Plant also has a significant number of third-party parts employees on site. Shreveport, which is scheduled to close next year, builds mid-sized pickups.
A LINC spokesman did not respond to a phone message.
Unique labor agreements
GM's Orion plant has several unique labor provisions that have been controversial among UAW members.
To allow it to operate profitably in building a B-segment vehicle, the UAW agreed to allow the plant to be staffed by 60 percent traditional workers earning about $28 an hour and the other 40 percent earning an entry-level wage of $14 an hour. The entry-level workers also receive about half the benefits of traditional workers.
Orion has about 800 traditional workers, 500 of the entry-level workers and 200 people employed by the parts suppliers. Other GM plants have only a handful of entry-level workers, if any.
LINC, of suburban Detroit, provides materials-handling, subassembly, transportation and other services to automakers. It's owned by the Moroun family of Detroit, owners of the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
LINC receives and distributes parts shipments for each of the Detroit 3, according to a preliminary prospectus LINC filed in May with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In the filing, the company said it may seek to raise up to $169 million in a stock offering. It posted $245.8 million in revenue last year.
Its operation inside GM's Orion plant "represents the first material-handling outsourcing arrangement of its kind for a third-party vendor within a GM assembly facility in the U.S.," LINC said in the filing.