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Union workers at General Motors Corp.'s Lansing Delta Township plant walked off their jobs at 10 a.m. today in a dispute over local contract issues.

The strike could cripple production at the plant and have serious implications for the Detroit automaker. The Delta Township facility makes the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook crossover vehicles that GM says are among its best-selling models.

“We are disappointed that UAW Local 602 have taken strike action at the Lansing Delta Township plant,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said. “We remain focused on reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”

Salaried workers are still reporting to the plant, Flores said, declining to discuss the issues that remain in dispute.

“We’re going to leave the bargaining at the table,” he said. “We’re focused on reaching an agreement as soon as we can.”

UAW officials also have declined to discuss the local issues that led to the strike.

Patrick Michael, 34, a production worker from Ypsilanti, said the dispute partly centered on a two-tier wage system the UAW and GM agreed on as part of a national contract in October 2007. Under that system, newly hired "noncore" workers would be paid about $14 an hour, less than the roughly $29 an hour current workers earn. At the Delta Township plant, Michael said, the issue is how many workers would get the lower-paid jobs and what those jobs would entail.

Michael also said he is concerned about the hit to his wallet. Striking workers are not getting paid by GM and will not be eligible for strike pay for seven days. Then, they will receive $200 per week.

The Delta Township plant has about 2,300 workers, according to a plant spokesperson. The walkout by members of UAW Local 602 comes a day after a plant supplier, Alliance Interiors, was hit by a strike.

That walkout slowed production Wednesday at the Delta Township facility.

Source: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080417/BUSINESS01/80417040
 
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