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Delphi workers favor strike in early voting

By Tom Krisher
Associated Press Writer

DETROIT — The voting's not done, but so far there's little doubt that Delphi Corp. production workers will give the United Auto Workers authority to call a strike if a bankruptcy judge voids their contract with the struggling auto supplier.

Workers at a half-dozen plants where the votes already have been counted have overwhelmingly favored allowing a strike, and local union officials say they expect the same results in voting that will take place until Sunday at 22 Delphi plants represented by the UAW.

Local union leaders said the vote is meant to counter Troy-based Delphi's move to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain to scrap its union contracts.

"You can't come to the card game if you ain't got enough chips to play," said Jim Hurren, president of UAW Local 467 in Saginaw, where 94 percent of the 950 workers voted to allow a strike.

The local in Saginaw, as well as locals in Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Decatur; and Wyoming, Mich.; all voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike, with some nearly unanimous, according to local leaders.

Voting was under way Thursday at another Saginaw local and at other plants nationwide.

UAW spokesman Paul Krell in Detroit said he would not release a total until all the votes were counted, probably sometime Sunday night.

A Delphi spokesman said the company is not surprised by the early vote totals.

"The unions' strike authorization vote activity has not and does not change our primary focus of reaching a consensual agreement," spokesman Lindsey Williams said. "We remain committed to achieving such an agreement."

The International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America, Delphi's second-largest union with 8,000 workers, already has voted to authorize a strike if its contract is voided.

The UAW votes come as workers anxiously watch the bankruptcy court trial, which is under way in New York. The results could shape the future of Delphi, its 33,000 hourly workers and 18,000 retirees and General Motors Corp., its former owner and biggest customer.

Delphi filed for bankruptcy protection in October, and it is seeking to reduce costs to become more competitive with its lower-cost suppliers. It also wants to close all but eight of its 29 U.S. plants.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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