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Adrian Delphi workers split on pact

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The factory in Adrian, along the one in Sandusky, is to be sold rather than closed, Delphi has announced.

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ADRIAN - Citing the murky employment picture in southeast Michigan, Andy Villegas, a newer worker at the Delphi Corp. Adrian plant, likely will vote to accept a proposed labor contract.

"It's the only good-paying job right now," said the 27-year-old who is paid $14.42 an hour, or a slightly more than half of what plant veterans make.

Workers in this Lenawee County town and at 20 other Delphi plants nationwide, including Sandusky, learned details yesterday of the concessionary agreement reached Friday by the United Auto Workers and the bankrupt auto parts producer.

Voting is set for Thursday at most plants. Delphi employs 17,000 UAW members nationwide. If they approve the agreement, it is subject to approval by a U.S. Bankruptcy judge in New York.

For the Sandusky and Adrian operations, there was good news in the resolution of the bitter labor dispute.

Delphi has removed them from a list of factories it planned to sell or close and now says they will be sold. People familiar with the situation say that is a sign that Delphi has found buyers for the factories, although the Troy, Mich., company has made no announcement on the matter.

Six other Delphi plants will be closed. Others will be combined or turned over to different operators. Delphi will eventually have only four U.S. factories.

The contract, if approved, would run until Sept. 14, 2011.

Many of the 100 union members who showed up at the UAW Local 2031 hall on East Beecher Street in Adrian to hear details of the agreement were younger workers hired to fill vacancies created by earlier employee buyouts sponsored by General Motors Corp., Delphi's former owner.

Workers hired since 2004 make much less than longtime workers.

Under the new pact, GM veterans who moved to Delphi when the company was spun off

in 1999 will have wages cut by at least a third from $27. To soften the blow, they will be eligible for three annual payments of $35,000.

They also can try to return to GM. The pact includes incentives to persuade workers to retire or leave: $140,000 for workers with at least 10 years on the job; $70,000 for those with less than 10 years; $35,000 payments to encourage the departure of those with 30 years of service; and retirement benefits for anyone at least 50 years old with 10 years.

Older workers interviewed in Adrian were more resistant to the pact than were younger workers.

"Absolutely not," said a man with a salt-and-pepper beard when asked if he would vote for the deal.

The Adrian plant makes door trim, instrument panels, and instrument trim. When GM offered incentives there and at other Delphi plants last year, 200 of 350 workers signed up.

Mr. Villegas, who has been on the job 11 months, was among those hired to fill the gap.

So was Sandra Henagan.

She said she will likely vote for the agreement.

She is disappointed that workers will lose cost-of-living increases, but was pleased she will not take a pay cut and that her hourly pay will rise to $15.30 on her first anniversary at the plant.

"There just aren't too many jobs," she said.

UAW representatives in Adrian and Sandusky couldn't be reached for comment.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.

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