Some GM workers to return to Delta

November 6, 2009

Some GM workers to return to Delta

1,375 to go back; India strike still limits production

Barbara Wieland
bwieland@lsj.com

General Motors Co.’s Delta Township assembly plant will be back on line Monday, a week after it was shut down by a parts shortage brought on by an overseas strike.

However, production will be limited. The Detroit carmaker is calling back 1,375 first-shift workers to resume building the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia crossovers. But the plant’s 1,200 second shift workers will remain on layoff until the parts supply returns to normal.

The Delta plant was idled because of a labor strike at a factory in India where a transmission part is made. The company, Rico Auto Industries Ltd., sends the part to GM’s transmission plant in Warren.

It was not clear if GM was able to get the part in question from Rico or whether it turned to an alternate supplier. GM spokesman Chris Lee would not comment on the matter, saying it’s GM’s policy not to discuss its relationships with suppliers.

"We don’t identify the part or the responsible supplier," he said.

Strike ongoing

A spokesman for Clarkston-based Rico North America, the U.S. arm of the Indian company at the center of the labor dispute, also declined to comment on the shortage or the status of the walkout.

However, Brian Fredline, president of United Auto Workers Local 602, which represents hourly workers at the Delta Township plant, said the strike in India was ongoing as of Wednesday. He wasn’t sure which company now is selling GM the part.

"We’re getting parts. I don’t know if they’re coming from India or somewhere else," Fredline said.

Not always reliable

Fredline said workers in India have been on strike since Sept. 21. While he supports the right of workers in India to organize, Fredline said the parts disruption points to a potential globalization hazard.

"It may be the lesson to learn here is that while outsourcing is the cheapest alternative, it’s not always the most reliable alternative," he said.

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