JD Norman boss stumps for UAW to reconsider contract

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General Motors may start moving large, expensive dies out of its Indianapolis metal stamping plant within the week, and Justin Norman wants to close a deal for the plant before it's too late.

"Once the business starts moving, there's no turning around," Norman said on Wednesday afternoon.

Norman, owner of Illinois-based JD Norman Industries, came to Indianapolis to make a personal plea for United Auto Workers Local 23 to allow a vote on his proposed five-year contract. If the contract is approved, Norman would be able to acquire the plant, as well as the book of business from GM. Norman said he hopes to grow beyond that business, as production volumes rise across the automotive industry. 

Norman also talked about his commitment to becoming a U.S.-based manufacturer. He noted that 40 percent of GM's local workers are skilled tradespeople. "Skilled trades are core to our company," he said.

Norman also said he wants to retain 100 percent of the salaried and hourly workforce. He said there are about 90 salaried employees, and 661 hourly. (Some of those hourly workers are temps.)

Norman admitted he hoped media coverage of his press conference would bring pressure on UAW officials to hold a vote, which he believes was prevented by a "vocal minority."

The UAW's regional and national-level representatives had arranged for an informational meeting at the Drover Street union hall Sunday. Local members packed the house and shouted down the UAW presenters. A vote scheduled for Monday was canceled.

Many union members dislike the plan because it cuts base wages from $29 per hour to $15.50. Union reps say local members would rather see the plant close in the hopes that they'll be transferred to other GM plants.

But Norman said he senses strong support for his offer.

"Based upon the outpouring of phone calls that I personally have received from plant employees, I believe there is a sincere desire to listen to our offer," Norman said. "The employees of the facility deserve an opportunity to be educated on our proposal."

Norman said he's optimistic he can close the deal, which has been in the works since spring. "The whole transaction was structured and lined up. The fact that we were at the goal line ready to close gives me encouragement."


  • Union or Not
    Re: mac2000 They had the meeting offsite-from the number of attendees, not very many were interested in 1/2 pay. The really sad fact is that someone with 30 years and eligible to retire (such as you, maybe?)would even consider this anti-union thinking. Better to ask, could I really do the job? It is very likely that J.D. Norman won't need as many union appointed jobs (oops) or furnish transportation (another oops) inside the plant.
    Consider what the term "union" means. Never before did it mean 2 tier wages, working for years before full benefits start. Temporary employee would never have been considered by the former International UAW. If you worked, you were permanent. After 90 days you were exactly the same as the other employees. Your life wasn't in limbo for month after month. Do you remember those days?? Were you ever a true union person or just someone who sucked up to mgmt. and continued to reap the benefits of the Union? I watched for years while some (maybe even you) developed a me, me, me attitude rather than the All for One --One for All Union stance. Oh yeah,those kind stick out like a sore thumb.
    Just a note to Barry Cooper--The UAW didn't force them to make their products in other countries. All the corporate "freebies" that came with Bill Clinton's NAFTA did that. Ever hear of NAFTA???? Raise you head up now and look around. You will see that lots of corporations moved their production out of the US. Not just UAW represented ones!!
  • Stupid
    I am going to post this on my Facebook as an example of stupid Union intransigence. You know what? Half those people will get laid off, and sooner or later the Federal Government will quit bailing the Unions out, and they will be SOL, crying in their beer.

    I have little sympathy for GM executives, but the reality is that the UAW has forced them to make their stuff in other countries. Nissan, Toyota and other Japanese companies come here, pay market rates, and do just fine. They keep people employed throughout the south.

    These people here: short sighted whiners. Enjoy your joblessness. When it hits--and it will--it's going to last a long time.
  • kowtowing to corporatists, not unions
    Mike - I haven't seen a US government policy even under Obama that kowtows to private sector unions since the 1970s. But yes they do kowtow to the public sector unions.

    Since Reagan our government was in cahoots with Wall Street and the international (non USA) corporations for one purpose, to break the back of unions. The only connection many of these former US corporations have to the USA is that they control our government. GM got bailed out with USA money and they build factories in Mexico and elsewhere.

    That free trade but sell out the USA strategy was intended to enrich Wall St capitalists and the formerly US corporations who could profit from new upcoming markets in China and elsewhere and sell foreign made products back to stupid uninformed Americans.

    I find the view of some that it is un-American to have union employment contracts for average workers yet they see nothing wrong when a $50 million a year CEO who actually controls the company have an employment contract that is absurdly lucrative. The CEO should be required to risk his entrepreneurial and management abilities with the BOD and shareholders instead of being granted armor plated security with a platinum parachute.

    Weâ??ve allowed the corporatists and Wall Street banksters to plunder the USA while Americans concern themselves only with the NFL and Dancing with the Stars. That was one major purpose that organized labor served. They did offset the now unilateral power of Wall St and foreign multi-national corporations who have no loyalty to the USA.
  • GOOD!
    I say close the place, someone has to say NO to the assault on pay rates! When will Americans wake up and realize there is a movement to make America a third world country!These workers have based their finances on their payscale, not 1/2 pay!
  • Job Loss
    I find it odd that an individual would rather not work than take a pay-cut. Yes, one could move to a new city for a similar job but it's tough uprooting your family, selling your house at an inevitable loss 8 months from now and try to get financed on a home in a new city. All this for a job that is on shaky ground because the company is run and owned by a government that kowtows to the unions (and sets back bankruptcy laws 300 years through the process of wiping away creditor rights to the bondholders) for votes doesn't sound like an ideal plan either.

    Tough situation all the way around especially for Mr. Norman who can't even get an appropriate vote while trying to save these very jobs.

    It's an unfortunately new reality for everyone in this country right now.

    • From a Local 23 member
      The sad fact is alot of the older (30 years of service)employees don't realize they can retire, draw their pention in full from GM, and continue to work for JD. When you do the math, that works out to about $33 per hour. Better than a skilled tradesman at $24 per hour. I think if we had a meeting, off site, presided over by a third party who can establish and maintain order, and had a reasonable debate from both sides about the facts, a vote would be very close.
    • wrong argument
      Esta - you are making the wrong argument.

      They know they can be replaced by cheaper labor, but they have their contract and they are acting in their best self-interest. GM can't outsource this labor elsewhere because of the union contract. Case closed, this plant closed (but the work will still have to be done somewhere else within GM).

      GM has acted in the management's self-interest for many years, which resulted in wiping out their owners and creditors, and the real headline story should be "Who is crazy enough to buy their stock in the IPO?" That's the crazy thing here. Not the fact that these workers are fighting for what was promised to them long time ago. Do you see any professional athletes give up on their contracts when there is a younger, better and cheaper player available? People tend to act in their best self-interest, so let's not use a double-standard here.

      And trust me, your work can be done in half your salary...you are not ten times more productive and smarter than Chinese or Indian worker with same skills...and yes, they have enough people with your (or my) skills. We just need a decade or so to get there.
    • Boiled Down
      The local union's argument of "would you take a 50% pay cut?" doesn't hold water. Of course nobody would willingly take a 50% pay cut, but here's the catch. I wouldn't take it, and my employer wouldn't ask it of me, because there is nobody willing and QUALIFIED to do my job at 50% of what I am earning. Mr. Norman, and the union members, know that there are QUALIFIED people willing to do that same job for half the salary. Simple as that.

      Why shouldn't the guy who sweeps the parking garage I park in each morning earn $29/hr + benefits? Because there is someone else QUALIFIED and willing to do it for $7.50/hr. Beleive me, if my employer thought they could get my QUALITY of effort and ability for half my salary, I'd be out of a job.

      There my frineds, you have it. Case (and it seems, unfortunately, plant) closed.

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