Strike Vote at Kansas Assembly Plant "Just Routine" Says UAW

By Joel Arellano | January 24, 2012
To us in the private sector, the word "strike" evokes images of picket signs and chanting union members while grim-faced company spokespersons again reiterate they have laid down the "best" proposal on the table but union members are being stubborn ignoring a great deal. The reality is that strikes, apparently, are part and parcel in union-company negotiations. That's the explanation given by George Ruiz, president of UAW Local 31, which recently authorized a strike vote for its members at General Motors' Fairfax, Kansas assembly plant. According to Ruiz, such votes are actually routine and are used to gain a better position against clients like GM. States union spokesperson Michele Martin, "the UAW is working through issues with the company and is optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement." The Kansas assembly plant employs over 3,000 hourly staff where they build the popular Chevrolet Malibu midsized sedan and premium Buick LaCrosse. The UAW had already approved a nationwide contract with GM last year but both parties also negotiate specific contracts with each plant over local issues like work rules. Union Local 31 has not specified what its issue of contention is with General Motors which has also declined to elaborate on the matter. Automotive.com's take: The strike comes at yet another crucial time for GM. The Kansas assembly plant is scheduled to start production of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, GM's fuel-efficient answer to its competitors' hybrid offerings. And the Buick LaCrosse is one of the entry-level luxury brand's popular offerings. It will be interesting to see if the strike does go forward and possibly impact production of both sedans. Source: Detroit Free Press
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