DETROIT -- Workers for a supplier inside General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant yesterday voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, allowing union leaders to call for a work stoppage during negotiations if a deal can’t be hammered out.
The workers are employed by LINC Logistics Co., one of a half-dozen third-party vendors that work at Orion as part of GM’s strategy to hold down costs at the suburban Detroit plant. UAW Local 5960 represents about 125 LINC workers at the plant, which is preparing to start production of the Chevrolet Sonic small car in August.
With the strike authorization, the local can send notice to LINC that workers could strike after five business days if progress isn’t made toward a contract.
Ninety-eight percent of the 88 workers who voted yesterday agreed to authorize a strike, a representative at the union hall said this morning.
A spokeswoman for LINC declined to comment. UAW Local 5960 President Pat Sweeney didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said GM does not expect a strike authorization 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 LINC employees have been working at Orion without a contract since they agreed to join the UAW this spring. They are performing logistics and parts sequencing at the plant.
The Sonic will replace the Chevy Aveo, which has not been competitive in the growing B segment. It will be the only U.S.-made subcompact.
GM’s Orion plant has several unique labor provisions aimed at allowing it profitably to assemble a B-segment vehicle, a category that historically has been a money-loser in the United States.
Under a 2009 agreement, the UAW allowed the plant to be staffed by 40 percent entry-level workers paid $14 an hour, about half the pay of a traditional worker.
Orion has about 800 traditional workers, 500 entry-level workers and 200 people employed by 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 is owned by the Moroun family of Detroit, owners of the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.