Strike at Ohio parts plant forces shutdown at Broening Highway plant

MOST GM WORKERS HERE LAID OFF

August 31, 1992|By Ted Shelsby and Joe Nawrozki | Ted Shelsby and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writers

Most of the 3,200 workers at the Baltimore General Motors Corp. plant were laid off today and the plant was shut down after negotiations failed to end a strike at a parts plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

"It's not a good-news scenario here," said Terry Youngerman, a spokesman for the local assembly plant on Broening Highway, which manufactures the line's popular minivan.

"It's pretty disconcerting to the workers because they feel like innocent bystanders . . . the Ohio plant makes the parts we use here. And when you don't have the parts, you can't make vehicles."

Mr. Youngerman said he did not know when work here would resume. Those affected by the layoff are eligible for Maryland unemployment benefits, he said.

The first to be laid off began leaving the plant shortly after 8 a.m.

Negotiators for General Motors and the United Autoworkers Union met yesterday but failed to end the strike in Lordstown.

Dennis Mulkey, a union official, said the two sides were scheduled to resume talks today.

About 2,400 workers at the Lordstown parts fabricating plant walked off the job Thursday morning in a dispute over job security, health and safety issues.

The Lordstown plant produces parts used in 14 GM models, including door frame components for the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari minivans made in Baltimore.

Mr. Youngerman said the local plant's 278 salaried workers and about 360 maintenance workers are scheduled to stay on the job.

He said it would likely take several days for the local plant to resume production once the strike ends. Under normal procedure, he said, there would be a 36-hour period before union members could hold a ratification vote to approve a tentative settlement reached by the negotiators.

Mr. Youngerman that he did not know how soon the Lordstown plant would start shipping parts to Baltimore once an accord had been reach.

During normal times, workers at the Baltimore plant produce 47 minivans an hour. To keep pace with strong consumer demand for the products made here, employees have been working overtime and some Saturdays.

The economic impact of the Lordstown strike on Maryland will be felt well beyond the Broening Highway complex. As part of GM's $270 million renovation of the Baltimore plant back in the early 1980s, the company adopted an inventory system that uses a number of area suppliers for its parts.

Under this so-called just-in-time inventory system, some suppliers make two or three deliveries to the plant each day.

Some of these suppliers, including Monarch Manufacturing Inc., the Belcamp company that makes --boards for the minivan, and Marada Industries Inc., the Westminster supplier of body components, are expected to feel the impact of the GM plant closing almost immediately.

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