Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, responding to troubling reports from local Delphi workers, personally called General Motors (GM) CEO Ed Whitacre, urging him to keep the plant open and operating. Schumer said that he had heard reports that unless workers agree to swallow yet another devastating pay cut, General Motors is threatening to shutter the facility when workers' contracts expire in September 2011. As a champion of GM's acquisition of Delphi and a supporter of the successful rescue of the American auto industry, Schumer said he found this threat uncalled for and counterproductive and urged Mr. Whitacre to preserve these important jobs. Mr. Whitacre indicated that he would closely examine the issue and respond to Schumer's concerns as soon as possible.
"We didn't fight so hard to save the Lexington Avenue Delphi plant and to rescue the American auto industry just to see GM potentially close this plant - especially now that the economy is beginning to rebound; it just doesn't make sense," said Schumer. "This plant and its workers are incredibly productive and loyal, and they are itching to do their part to again make GM the best car company in the world. What's more, the workers have already made huge concessions. Enough is enough GM needs to make it clear that this plant will remain open and put these eager employees to work."
Schumer said that the primary reason for the federal government's unprecedented efforts to protect the auto industry from collapse was the preservation of American jobs. Moreover, these Rochester workers have already agreed to tough pay and benefit reductions in recent years. In 2007, for example, Rochester UAW Local 1097 production workers agreed to a 40% pay cut and to give up a week of vacation. With sales on the rise and GM showing sign of strength, now is not the time to squeeze further concessions out of workers.
Furthermore, shutting the Rochester facility seems to undermine GM's longterm interests. Researchers in this region are making cuttingedge breakthroughs in fuel cell technology. The Delphi manufacturing facility is uniquely wellpositioned to manufacture these fuel cells when they are ready for market. Shuttering the facility now may hurt GM's competitive advantage later.
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