On March 31, Delphi, the largest auto-parts company in the US and the former parts arm of General Motors, applied to US courts to cancel its labour contracts with unions to allow the company to reorganise and continue to function.
Delphi plans to close 13 of its 21 US plants and retain just 8000 of its 31,000 casual workers, with 8000 salaried staff also set to lose their jobs. Those casuals who keep their jobs would have their pay cut initially from US$27 to $22 per hour, and would then receive a $50,000 wages buy-out in September 2007 when hourly wages would be cut to $16.
Delphi’s court application follows the refusal by the United Auto Workers, the biggest union representing Delphi workers, to accept the restructuring plan. The UAW leadership’s refusal to accept the offer was influenced by the fear that both GM and Ford, which are renegotiating their contracts with the UAW in 2007, would seek to include similar concessions in their contracts. Delphi’s bankruptcy reorganisation is expected to force workers to respond with strike action.
On April 4, the Free Press reported that 45 workers laid off at Delphi’s Flint East Plant on March 31 had returned to work on April 4 and refused to leave. Any extended disruption in Delphi’s parts production is expected to cost GM, which is on the edge of bankruptcy, and would signal a deepening crisis in the US auto industry.
For more information on the campaign against concessions and job losses, visit /">www.soldiersofsolidarity.com> and www.futureoftheunion.org/.
Originally published in Green Left Weekly #664
Wednesday, April 12, 2006