GM, autoworkers agree to return to bargaining


The strike by 3,200 members of the United Auto Workers union against the General Motors Corp.'s Broening Highway assembly plant entered its second day yesterday with both sides agreeing to return to bargaining later this morning in hopes of resolving their differences.

Members of Local 239 walked off the job Monday morning, protesting what union officials and workers say are unsafe working conditions.

They claim that when the company eliminated more than 400 jobs in February -- when it reduced vehicle production from 47 units per hour to 42 -- too few people were left on the assembly line to safely perform the work.

Rodney A. Trump, president of the local, said that employees are being overworked and that their rush to keep pace with the moving assembly line has resulted in a rash of injuries.

Mr. Trump said that injuries are running about 10 times the normal rate and that trips to the hospital are at record levels.

The company has repeatedly declined to discuss the issues publicly, saying that they are private matters between GM, its employees and the union.

Mr. Trump said that the two sides met off and on yesterday for a total of about two hours.

He said that probably the most optimistic thing to come out of yesterday's session was that the two sides agreed to return to the table this morning.

At today's session, Mr. Trump said, there will be a subcommittee meeting in which representatives of various operations of the assembly plant will meet with union officials familiar with the work performed there.

Since the strike began, Terry Youngerman, a spokesman for GM, has expressed the company's hope for a speedy settlement.

GM has said that it has about a six-week supply of the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari minivan, which are produced at the Broening highway complex.

The Baltimore plant is GM's only supplier of the vans.

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