Delphi workers hit picket line - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Delphi workers hit picket line

November 29, 2005

Fitzgerald- Delphi workers took turns protesting across the street from the plant's gates...an entrance Leroy McClellan has gone through for nearly 27 years.

"We're out here to send a clear message that we don't agree with what they are doing. We feel like the bankruptcy is not really necessary. We feel like our leadership is trying to mislead us, mislead the American people," McClellan says.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in October citing high labor costs. Several of its plants, including Fitzgerald's, could be on the chopping block, and workers say they're being asked to take at least a 50% cut in wages and benefits to help keep the company afloat.

"They feel that by reducing the workforce, reducing wages, reducing benefits its a way to strengthen the company, but mainly it's a way to generate more revenue for the people at the top," says McClellan.

"If they would do a better job of managing the business from the corporate level, CEO down, then they could see that they could still pay a quality wage plus make a product worth selling," adds Mark Campbell.

Two-thirds of the 300 workers have at least 20 years of service in the industry and were hired when the company was a General Motors subsidiary. Their United Auto Workers contract doesn't end until September 2007, but they say new Delphi CEO Steve Miller is trying to find a way out of it, putting their jobs and pensions at risk.

"We moved down here and had to start all over, and right now that would really hurt pretty bad. I've got one youngest son in high school about to go to college," says Hugh Pennington.

"We've got to worry about it. Our livelihood is at stake, and they're not doing anything to fix it and all they want to do is cut our wages to the bone," Campbell says.

With their livelihoods in limbo, the workers say they will keep fighting back against a company they've been loyal to, until Delphi does the same.

Union representatives say they will meet with Delphi and GM executives in Detroit Thursday to get an update on the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

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