- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

DETROIT (AP) — United Auto Workers members have voted to authorize a strike against auto parts supplier Delphi Corp., adding a new threat to already tense negotiations between the two sides and Delphi’s former parent and largest customer General Motors Corp.

The UAW said yesterday that more than 95 percent of voting members approved the strike authorization.

UAW members had been expected to approve the measure, which allows the international union to call a strike against Delphi if it feels one is necessary as the two sides bargain over wages. UAW locals were required to complete voting by Sunday.

The company intends to keep negotiating with the UAW. “Their strike authorization vote doesn’t change our strategy, and that strategy remains to get a consensual agreement with all of our unions and GM,” Delphi spokesman Lindsey Williams said.

The UAW is by far the largest of Delphi’s six unions, representing 24,000 of the company’s 33,000 U.S. hourly workers. The International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America, which represents 8,000 workers, also has voted to authorize a strike.

The strike votes give Delphi’s unions more weight in their ongoing wage negotiations with the company. Delphi, which filed for bankruptcy protection in October, has proposed cutting its U.S. hourly workers’ wages from $27 an hour to $16.50 an hour, or as low as $12.50 an hour if GM doesn’t agree to supplement those wages.

Delphi was in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week asking Judge Robert Drain for permission to cancel its labor contracts after it failed to reach a deal with its unions and GM. Judge Drain isn’t expected to rule until next month, and even then, Delphi could continue to keep the contracts in place while negotiations continue.

The union said yesterday that the vote gives it the ability “to call a strike should Delphi use its bankruptcy court proceedings to unilaterally impose changes to the UAW-Delphi collective bargaining agreements.” The union had no other immediate comment.

A Delphi strike could harm Toyota Motor Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group and other automakers that depend on Delphi parts. But it could paralyze GM, which remains Delphi’s largest customer. Analysts have said GM could lose up to $130 million a day during a strike.

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