United Auto Workers union members have approved a deal that gives Delphi Corp. concessions on wages, benefits and plant closings that the auto parts maker has said it must have to exit bankruptcy.
About 68 percent of UAW members who voted approved the agreement, the UAW said in a terse statement that did not identify Delphi by name.
The ratification vote at GM's former parts operation is complete and the agreement was accepted by the membership, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President Cal Rapson said in the statement.
Voting on the agreement was cumulative among the eligible 17,000 UAW members, with results reported independently from some of the largest locals showing widespread approval with the exception of a unit in New York that voted heavily against it.
Bankrupt Delphi has said it must have the labor cost cuts to complete its reorganization. The deal removes the threat of a strike that could have crippled the company and former parent General Motors Corp., Delphi's biggest customer.
The agreement designates plants for retention, sale, or closure. Delphi expects to retain four plants, put four up for sale, shift three to GM or a third party, and exit 10 others.
The vote was put on a fast track following the announcement of an agreement on June 22 and wrapped up on Friday morning with an annual two-week shutdown approaching. The UAW also begins talks with U.S. automakers later in July.
Some 13,000 recent hires and 4,000 long-term workers were eligible to vote on the deal, which the union credited to GM's willingness to bargain and not to Delphi.
Veteran workers receive $105,000 over three years to accept wage cuts from about $27 per hour to the $14 to $18.50 per hour recent hires receive. New hires can get raises, and workers who lose their jobs in the next few years will get severance pay.
GM also made guarantees on jobs and future business at the 11 plants not closing to make the cuts more palatable, and has set its exposure at $7 billion for the reorganization.
GM committed to take back long-term Delphi employees who want to return to the automaker, an option veteran workers who live near a GM plant are likely to take. The agreement also extends buyout and retirement programs negotiated between Delphi, the UAW and GM in 2006.
Thousands of long-term workers took retirements or buyouts that allowed Delphi to hire replacements at lower wages and benefits under that program.
Lockport, New York, local members voted against the deal by a wide margin. The plant has a large percentage of long-term workers who will take wage and benefit cuts.
Paul Siejak, president of the Lockport local, said this week that members expressed frustration at the concessions, especially given executive bonuses at Delphi.
Where is the equal sacrifice, Siejak said.
But support was at least significant if not overwhelming at other locals that disclosed results to Reuters.
Members at two Milwaukee-area locals voted overwhelmingly to support the pact. Those workers are nearly all recent hires and will receive severance when the plants close in late 2007 or autumn 2008.
President Skip Dziedzic was not surprised by the results at the Milwaukee locals, but had harsh words for Delphi managers.
They are despicable, Dziedzic said. These people deserve the money for working under these conditions, he said of the recent hires and severance packages agreed in the deal.
For workers in Dayton, Ohio, the vote likely came down to assurances of future jobs, Local 696 President Joe Buckley said in an interview on Thursday night.
It's tough to ask people to take the wage cuts this agreement calls for, Buckley said. The alternative is a labor dispute. I don't know that a labor dispute would assure us job security for our members.
GM said in a statement it was pleased by the ratification of the four-year labor agreement between UAW and Delphi, and was encouraged by the progress in Delphi's reorganization.
The deal requires U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval. Delphi and the local units also must negotiate individual work rules.
Delphi, which filed for bankruptcy in October 2005, still plans to exit bankruptcy by the end of 2007.
(Additional reporting by Jui Chakravorty in Detroit)