GM workers OK pact for local plant National contract still to be drafted


Members of Local 239 of the United Auto Workers union yesterday approved a new three-year pact that preserves past gains while adding a few new ones for hourly workers at the General Motors Corp. assembly plant on Broening Highway.

Rodney A. Trump, president of the local, which represents about 3,200 workers at the van assembly plant, said that keeping the "saver clause" -- which preserves provisions from previous contracts -- was a key component of the new pact.

"This was a major accomplishment," he said. "Without that we could have lost a number of things we fought hard in win in the past."

More than 1,000 workers met early yesterday afternoon at the UAW hall on Oldham Street, not far from the GM assembly plant, to vote on the pact. More than 92 percent of the workers who voted approved the contract; the union did not provide vote tallies.

Mr. Trump said the pact "is good for both sides." He said the agreement will not hurt GM's competitiveness in the van market.

The local contract covers issues specific to the Baltimore plant, which produces Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans.

Issues involving wages, pension benefits, job security and health care benefits are negotiated by GM and the United Auto Workers as part of a national contract.

Last week the UAW reached agreement on a new national contract with Ford Motor Co., which is to serve as a model for pacts with GM and Chrysler Corp.

The local agreement settled more than 500 grievances about working conditions at the city's largest manufacturing employer. It also addressed more than two dozen worker demands on such issues as seniority, job classifications, shift preference and overtime agreements.

The new contract includes an agreement by the company to provide heat at a loading dock area; wash-up time for workers cutting and installing fiberglass headliners in vans; improved motorcycle parking; and a ventilated smoking section in the cafeteria.

"It's a pretty good contract," said Dino Prettyman, a 26-year employee at the plant who currently installs door components on vans moving along the assembly line. "We got some gains compared to what we had."

Mr. Prettyman, 56 and looking forward to retiring in four years, said the saver clause "was very important because it allows us to keep what we already had."

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