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Economic development officials stunned by GM plant no-vote

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Indiana Commerce Secretary Mitch Roob said he was completely surprised by local General Motors workers' refusal to vote on a proposed contract by JD Norman Industries, a decision that appears to set up the plant for certain closure in September 2011.

GM is trying to sell the plant to JD Norman, based in Addison, Ill., but hasn't received much cooperation from United Auto Workers Local 23, which represents 631 workers at the plant. Union members voted 384-22 on May 26 not to open contract negotiations with Norman, which would pay a lower hourly wage, and—workers believed at the time—wipe out their GM retirement eligibility.

Despite the initial vote, higher-level UAW officials continued to work with JD Norman and GM to come up with a proposal the rank-and-file might accept. Norman is expected to become a GM supplier.

"I’m extremely disappointed that the employees were not given an opportunity to vote," Roob said Monday morning. "The real losers," he said, are the "thousands who will never have the opportunity to work at this facility."

Members of Local 23 shouted down the union's international representatives at a Sunday afternoon meeting to learn about the proposal. The meeting ended abruptly, and plans to hold a vote Monday were canceled.

General Motors Corp. had been planning to close the plant next year unless it is sold. JD Norman emerged as a potential buyer this spring, but the company said it needed wage and benefit cuts to make the deal work. Under the proposal, base pay would drop from $29 per hour to $15.50.

It's unclear whether JD Norman will now walk away from the deal. Michael Young, project director at economic development organization Develop Indy, said he's still awaiting word from JD Norman about its next step. Young said, he was “very surprised and disappointed” at the workers' decision.

Sunday's proposal was the result of negotiations by higher-level union representatives, who also wanted to keep the jobs in Indianapolis. The second-round offer included bonuses of $35,000 for GM workers who agreed to quit or retire and work for JD Norman for at least two years. Those who wanted to stay with GM and preserve their rights to transfer to another GM factory could do so.

Roob said he now expects Indianapolis officials will start working on a reuse plan, which may take four or five years.

"It's hard to see a silver lining in this cloud today," he said.

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  • sub pay
    All I can say is , when their sub pay runs out and GM forgets what their name is $15.50 will look damn good to these guys
  • The Outrage!
    xxx
  • The Outrage!
    Or to put it into perspective, if they accept the $15/hour offer, the combined salaries of all 600 workers would equal the salary of the president of Wellpoint. Does that give you an idea of how greedy these guys are! It's just unbelievable. What's next? Two week vacations?
    • Why The Outrage!
      The nerve of these guys to want $29/hour for working around heavy machinery, and actually producing something. The nerve. Reminds me of the CEO of Wellpoint, who was making $4,250/hour ($9M), and then got bumped up to $8,500/hour ($18M). The nerve of those guys to expect $29/hour. Who could possibly afford that? What's next? Medical coverage?
    • US jobs
      In this time of shortages - jobs, qualified employees, money to pay more workers, money to buy more things one would think a $15/hr job is better than no job. Well, go fishing and watch tv, while those of us working for $8, $10, $12 or even $17.50 per hr will pay our taxes to support you. What did you do with all that $29/hr when you were working? I'd like to see IN a "Right-To-Work" state where Union & Non-Union can both find jobs and benefits. And don't tell me that is impossible. My spouse & I have been on both sides of the Union-Non-Union fence in IN and elsewhere. At least these auto workers can earn US$15.60/hr in the US. My US$17.50/hr job is computer based and moving overseas. I'd be glad to keep my job at US$15. Iâ??m applying for jobs paying much less â?? and I do have a h.s. diploma and university degree â?? but as a wife and mother, both non-union positions, have been paid less in the business world.
      • calculations
        My quick math tells me that $15.50 per hour, while not as good as the original $29 per hour, is certainly better than the $330 per week ($8.50 per hour equivalent) that unemployment will bring. Voting no appears that it will force a shutdown and maybe an eventual land reuse, but in the meantime, there will be no jobs at that location. The implications of this include a loss of 600+ jobs and the elimination of at least dozens of vendor relationships of which probably several are local as well. If the plant can be purchased, at least any current employee can make their own choice to be unemployed and it won't take away a major employment option for 600+ Hoosiers!
      • Judge not
        I'm not a big fan of the unions when they try to institute rules to hamper productivity. But this is exactly the sort of thing unions SHOULD be allowed to do.

        They have a painful choice to make on compensation vs. closure, and I don't think we should judge them for whatever route they choose. We don't have all the facts. I wish them well and hope they can find a way to get jobs that pays well enough.
      • Blackmail
        They deserve to get paid that much they have blackmailed the compnay for years and this is what they get for it. Eventually there will not be any jobs to go to and then what will they do? I say tell the company to shove it I will find another $29 an hour job they are all over the place right guys? Don't take a pay cut just shut off those paychecks who needs them you have a point to make here. Good for Clark, he can be proud that he has shut down palnt after plant, we are proud to have him as another American that helped to shut this country down, Go Clarky you are the man. Oblamo backs you bunch of blackmailers for now anyway. When there are no jobs to go to for you guys you will understand.
      • Greed
        You know that corporate greed you talk about with the Simons, I understand what you are talking about but do not agree, they could take the Pacers elsewhere and get a better deal from some other city, you cannnot take your skills anywhere but some other GM job and get paid as well. THat is right you have no skills that you could demand from anyone else other than those you have blackmailed for years you and the union. We are in a free economy so if you are really worth what you think you are you will be able to go out and find another employer to pay you as well, right! On the other hand could these Pacers go out and make as much else where as long as they have skills they will make that much but you do not want to be part of finding a job for equal pay since there are none for what you know.
      • Ahuh
        I have worked in the union in the steel mills and you might think those are horrible conditions to unless you come out in the real world with the rest of us. No you should not take a 50% cut in pay a 100% would be much better then you do not have to go into those horrible conditions any longer. I am sure they could find no workers to do those jobs if they listed them in the classifieds either, at least that would be the union propaganda.
      • Gypsies
        Mr. Gregg Clark should ask himself why he has to keep moving? Why has GM had to shut down their plants while Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai build plants and prosper? Maybe it's because of the UAW "give me, give me, give me" attitude.
      • Really?
        So is one to assume when you are asked to take a 50% paycut you will raise your hand and say me first? Do some research on unions before you pass judgement and specifically on GM. They work in horrible conditions at the Indy plant and deserve every penny they get.
      • That's Funny Right There
        May I assume you either make $12 an hour or are unemployed. You certainly don't know what you are talking about. They won't be unemployed, they will follower their employer. That's loyalty most companies dream about. JD Norman is trying to break a contract agreement, they won't let him, end of story.
      • Union Vote
        I do agree with Toby...we live in a world economy and unfortunately, the current culture of American Unions is still in the 70s. All of us, both blue collar and white collar need to recognize the current economic reality is different and very competitive. Until union members realize this economic distinction, there will be more unemployment.
      • Hoosier non-union
        Spoken like a true ignorant Hoosier. Let me guess, you make $12.00 an hour? You look green to me. Oh, and most of them have jobs to wherever they want to move.
      • Jealousy Is Ugly
        I have to chuckle at people who spew forth comments in igorance. None of you would take a 50% pay cut, be honest. They will have jobs, they will move & take their pay checks with them. While they were here they supported the economy. They are educated and sound a lot smarter than some of the ignorant conserative hick Hoosier comments that I should come to expect. Really, grow up and think on your own instead of listening to other misinformed Hoosiers. I can't wait to retire and get the heck out of here!!
      • Hypocrites
        So let me get this straight-these workers are supposed to agree to a 60% wage and benefit cut for the good of Indiana? Really?

        Sorry gang. But everyone here going nuts about these people not agreeing to this are hypocrites.

        If your boss came into the office tomorrow and said you need to take a 60% wage and benefit cut to work for another company at this location, or move to another location within our company and not take any cuts-you wouldn't take that pay cut either.

        Just sayin...
      • The Focus Here is on a Lost Opportunity
        Sidebar comments about the Pacers' Contract, Brizzi, Simons, Daniels, etc. have really nothing to do with the GM - Workers issue. In fact, it only distracts from the real issue.

        I know it is tough to recognize that the world automotive market is no longer dominated by the U.S. and our union workers, but suffice it to say that the world has caught up, and in most cases has outperformed our automotive industry. So competition and the economy has driven down the wages and benefits of our post-WWII U.S. automotive industry, not the Pacers, the Simons, Brizzi, etc.; so if we are to again compete, the automotive management and union workers will need to work as a team if we are ever to return to our status of being a top automotive industry. For now, we can only begin to start over and work hard to re-establish our lost excellence.
      • The Focus Here is on a Lost Opportunity
        Sidebar comments about the Pacers' Contract, Brizzi, Simons, Daniels, etc. have really nothing to do with the GM - Workers issue. In fact, it only distracts from the real issue.

        I know it is tough to recognize that the world automotive market is no longer dominated by the U.S. and our union workers, but suffice it to say that the world has caught up, and in most cases has outperformed our automotive industry. So competition and the economy has driven down the wages and benefits of our post-WWII U.S. automotive industry, not the Pacers, the Simons, Brizzi, etc.; so if we are to again compete, the automotive management and union workers will need to work as a team if we are ever to return to our status of being a top automotive industry. For now, we can only begin to start over and work hard to re-establish our lost excellence.
        • How Sad!
          I understand that there were two sets of folks who were going to be addressed by the offer, our community-committed citizens, and those who were referred to as employee gypsies, the latter of whom have little/no commitment to the community, and will likely be on their way to other geographies shortly.

          I don't know enough about the details of the proposal to comment, except it likely would not have hurt the workers to have listened to what the Int'l Union and GM had to say about the sale and the wages/benefits and employment options. Unfortunately, I, like most of the community is saddened by the fact that the opportunity for dialogue was missed. I won't miss the gypsies, but I will miss those who have contributed to our Indianapolis community, and hope they may find other employment options here in the metropolitan area.

          Regretfully, the meeting digressed into chaos, and that is never a forum for a constructive review of options.

        • Duh, I'm in a Union and I be Smart and Stuff
          Oh boy! Those geniuses in the unions are at it again. Why do you think the auto industry is going bankrupt? It's because of you, you morons! Maybe if you would have been smart enough to make it through grade school, you would have figured out that companies whose expenses are higher than their revenues are not profitable. Your labor wages and benefits are out of control and continue to turn companies upside-down. You help no on but youselves and your sense of entitlement has always sickened me. Now, because of you greed and laziness, you will be out of a job altogether. Looks like your "plan" will backfire on you.

          Maybe after you are gone, then the plant will open back up and give opportunities to those who are willing to work hard and look at their job as a blessing rather than a right.

          Bye the way, and just for future reference for when we meet later in life...Yes. I would like fries with that.
        • A Sad Time
          In this time of shortages - jobs, qualified employees, money to pay more workers, money to buy more things one would think a $15/hr job is better than no job. Well, go fishing and watch tv, while those of us working for $8, $10 or $12 per hr will pay our taxes to support you. What did you do with all that $29/hr when you were working? I'd like to see IN a "Right-To-Work" state where Union & Non-Union can both find jobs and benefits. And don't tell me that is impossible. My spouse & I have been on both sides of the Union-Non-Union fence in IN and elsewhere.
        • REALL!!!
          If you are not one of the GM workers at the plant, you don't know what you are talking about. To see real greed just look at the GM Executives, the International Union Executives, and even Mitch Roob and the Governor-President wannabe and all of the other highly paid people who have no idea what it is to try to make ends meet on $15 / hour. That includes me. These people know what they are doing and the Norman Deal will get done after the plant closes, if it is really that good of a deal. Then you and all of the others can go apply for one of those $15 / hour jobs. I know, I know, there are people that would like to have those jobs, so it should not be difficult for JD Norman to hire and train their own work force, unless of course it is the already trained work force working at half the pay that JDN is really after. If Roob is really shocked, he hasn't been reading the same stuff I have been reading and maybe he needs to quit smoking whatever it is that is clouding his senses. Everyone wants these workers to take their pay cuts so all of the big wigs can thump their chests and say what a great job they did in improving our economy on the backs of those workers. You want to see a bunch of privileged workers who can stand a 50% pay cut, then just take a look at any of the sports teams in town that we coddle like a bunch of sissy babies. But watch out, if they find out who is trying to get them to take a pay cut, they may just send a round or two your way.
        • Hoosier non-union?
          Please look deeper into this story before throwing around words like "fool" and "greed". Fool would be more easily applied to people like you and me that insist on welfare for the rich, like our latest handout to the Simon owned Indiana Pacers. Greed might be applied to Brizi and My Man Mitch for keeeping Durham money they know he ripped off from people that trusted him.
          Many of the Indianapolis workers are â??GM gypsiesâ?? who have been forced to transfer from plant to plant during their careers. Shop Chair Greg Clark, for example, is on his fifth factory and third plant closing. The union contract gives workers the right to â??follow their work,â?? so if the plant closes next year as threatened, workers could likely find GM jobs in other towns.
          Finally, Hoosier non-union, how would you feel about voting to lower your hourly wage from $29 to $14.65?

          • Another one bites the dust
            And another one's down, and another one's gone - More short-sighted, typically union behavior. The unions priced themselves out of the market a LONG time ago.
            • Jobs will be available
              They are absolute fools not to take the deal. A job with lower pay is at least better than no job at all. Their greed is overwhelming and disgusting.

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