Allison Transmission workers may strike this week

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Unionized workers at Allison Transmission Inc. are preparing for a strike if negotiators do not reach a collective bargaining agreement by a Wednesday night deadline.

Leaders of United Auto Workers Local 933, which represents about 1,500 hourly workers at the Indianapolis transmission plant, have begun telling members about their options and responsibilities if the union declares a strike.

The union held private meetings Monday to update members on the contract talks, which started Sept. 4.

Local 933 President Allen Harris did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday morning.

Postings on the union’s Facebook page list assigned times in which members would picket in four-hour blocks outside of Allison’s plant in Speedway and at the union hall on South Tibbs Avenue.

It was unclear what day pickets would start, if they did. But the Facebook page lists times as early as Friday.

Melissa Sauer, a spokeswoman for Allison Transmission, declined to comment on details of the negotiations. She said contract talks are continuing as the deadline approaches.

“We’re still in negotiations,” she said. “Both parties are still talking.”

A month before negotiations started, 98 percent of almost 1,200 UAW 933 members voted in favor of allowing the union to declare a strike.

A strike-authorization vote is a standard procedure before contract negotiations begin. The vote does not declare a strike. It merely grants the union the right to do so.

A Nov. 6 post on the union’s website from bargaining committee Chairman Dan Gibson indicated that a strike was a possibility.

“As of the time I am writing this, there are still many unresolved issues including grievances, local demands, and actual contractual language,” Gibson wrote. “Again, the entire negotiating team and I are asking this membership to be prepared to take the necessary steps to get a fair and equitable agreement for this entire membership.”

Gibson's post said union representatives would contact members to let them know what to do if work stopped at the transmission plant.

A Nov. 9 post said a strike would mean members would lose dental, vision and most medical coverage during a work stoppage. Workers would retain life insurance, transition bridge coverage, group medical-hospital insurance and prescription coverage.

Local 933 members would be eligible for $40 pay per day for five days a week starting the eighth day of a strike.

Union members “must perform an assigned strike duty” to receive the benefits.

Union officers have been negotiating with a company that, on Oct. 29, reported a $32.2 million profit for its third quarter, which was a 17-percent drop from a year earlier. Revenue fell 14 percent, to $493.5 million.

The company recorded a $503 million profit for the first nine months of the year, up from $58.5 million in the same part of 2011. The earnings spike was largely the result of a $308 million tax benefit. Net sales have held steady year-over-year at about $1.65 billion.

Allison, which makes transmissions for commercial trucks, buses and military vehicles, has said waning global demand has caused its recent sales slide.

The union’s colleagues at the International UAW and management at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC avoided work stoppages in fall 2011 despite missing contract deadlines. Each company agreed to extend existing collective bargaining agreements while negotiators continued to hash out the labor pacts.

Allison stock was down 12 cents Tuesday morning, to $21.48 per share,

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