Representatives of union and management were meeting today in an effort to head off the threatened strike by more than 3,200 employees at the General Motors Corp. minivan plant on Broening Highway.
"We hope there will be a successful conclusion to these talks but you never know," Terry Youngerman, a GM spokesman, said today.
He said more than 30 negotiators from both sides began discussions at the southeast Baltimore plant at 6 a.m. over what union representatives charge are unsafe working conditions.
"Everything is ready. I'm ready, the people are ready, but we would rather not [strike]," said Rodney Trump, president of Local 239 of the United Auto Workers Union. "It's GM's call."
Trump and company officials negotiated yesterday for "several hours" at the plant, Trump said. The strike deadline was set for 10 a.m. today.
Trump said the main issue is worker safety. It arose after the plant reduced its work force in February, eliminating about 200 jobs from each of the daily shifts.
Since then, about 300 workers have reported injuries including back pain, wrist ailments and cuts on the job because too few people remain to do the work, Trump said. The injury rate is 10 times the number of injuries before the job eliminations, Trump said.
There also has been a dispute over vacation requests by employees denied time off because the company claims it would leave the plant short-staffed, Trump said.
GM spokesman Terry Youngerman could not be reached focomment last night.
The cutback at the plant this winter cut the number of vans tha come off the assembly line from 47 to 42 per hour. Vans made at the plant are Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari models, Trump said.