Hopes dimming for Delphi plant future

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Delphi’s departure from Brookhaven appears to be growing morelikely as contract negotiations with the local plant’s union seemto be at a standstill.

A source Tuesday said Delphi’s head of human resources canceleda Monday visit to the Brookhaven plant after hearing the latestfacets of a new contract proposal from leaders of IUE-CWA Local718. The source deemed the proposal “outrageous.”

“The money figures are just going off the roof,” he said.

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Among the ideas pitched by the union to Delphi, the source said,were $10 an hour raises over the course of the new five-yearcontract, a $2,500 ratification bonus for agreeing to the newcontract and contract buyout provisions starting at $100,000 forworkers with three to five years seniority and going up to $160,000for those with 10 or more years of service.

When reached Tuesday, union shop chairman Chris Godbolt had nocomment on contract talks with Delphi.

Godbolt directed questions to IUE-CWA’s division headquarters inDayton, Ohio. A call to that office was not returned Tuesday.

Rachelle Valdez, Delphi director of Communications andMarketing, said company policy is not to discuss contractnegotiations publicly.

Valdez reiterated earlier comments that Delphi had negotiated ingood faith with union leadership a competitive contract that wouldallow the company to build on a 30-year relationship at the plant.That proposal was rejected by the union.

“It takes both parties to come to the table to make this asuccess,” Valdez said.

Valdez said the Brookhaven plant is continuing to operate. Sheadded that she was hopeful union membership would work with plantleadership as contract discussions move forward.

Union members could be waiting on a “customary” meeting withmanagement 90 days before the end of a work contract. With theunion’s contract with Delphi scheduled to end October 12, thatmeeting – if held – would be in July.

According to the plant source, union members were told by theirleaders at a meeting Sunday that Delphi would either agree to theunion’s contract proposal at the July meeting or that a negotiatedplant shutdown would occur.

Under terms of the current work contract, union members wouldreceive $40,000 if they were to be laid off before the end of thecontract at midnight on October 12.

The Brookhaven plant employs around 250 people. Of those, 140are associated with the union.

Meanwhile, Delphi appears to be moving forward with plans tobuild up product inventory and relocate Brookhaven plant equipmentto Mexico.

General Motors on Friday instructed the plant to begin effortsto build up a “five-day bank” of automobile parts. That work wouldfill the local warehouse by the end of July, the source said.

Also, the Brookhaven plant’s underhood product line is scheduledto be shipped to Mexico on June 27.

“They’re crating it up (now),” the source said.

Furthermore, the timetable has the local plant losing one of itsmid-vehicle product lines about three weeks after the June 27 move.And shortly thereafter, as soon as Mexican workers are trained, oneof the plant’s left vehicle section lines would be relocated.

At that point, the source said, the plant would effectively beshut down. Employees could be placed on “down time,” during whichthey would be subject to being called back to work at any time,until the end of the contract period in October.

“It’s a bad, bad situation,” the source said.

The source also pointed out that the Delphi situation is notlimited to just plant workers. He mentioned truckers and severallocal businesses that do work with or for Delphi.

“It affects everybody,” he said.

DAILY LEADER Staff Writer Caleb Bedillion contributed to thisreport.