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Complaint on Orion taken to feds

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Complaint on Orion taken to feds

Man bypasses UAW in protest over wages


Free Press Business Writer

Laid-off UAW worker Nick Waun said he decided to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the union's recent agreement at Orion Assembly because he thought an internal appeal with the UAW would be difficult to win.

Waun, 31, of Lapeer filed a complaint with the NLRB that challenges a deal to employ 40% of the workers at the plant at a lower wage rate.

"The main thrust of this is to try to get a vote on the agreement, because they denied us a vote," Waun said.

Nancy Cleeland, spokeswoman for the NLRB, said the complaint would be investigated and the agency would hold an administrative hearing if the charge has merit.

Waun said he and other workers considered filing a complaint internally with the UAW, and still may do so, but decided it also was important to take the issue to an independent authority.

Bob King, in an interview with the Free Press on Oct. 16, said workers at Orion Assembly have a right to appeal the agreement with the union.

Typically, union members who want to appeal a UAW decision start the process at their local. For Waun, that would be UAW Local 5960. From there, an appeal could eventually go to the UAW's Public Review Board.

That board consists of six members who are nominated by the UAW's president and approved by the union's International Executive Board.

"It's gotten to the point where we no longer think an internal appeal will have an effect because it is controlled by the UAW," Waun said.

Workers were first told about the details of the UAW's Orion agreement on Oct. 3. It calls for 40% of the workers at the plant to be paid a second-tier wage of about $14 per hour, which is about half the wage for Tier-1 workers.

In 2007, the UAW reached agreements with the three domestic automakers allowing the companies to hire new workers at the second-tier wage rage. The contracts set a cap for the second-tier wage earners at between 20% and 30% of each automaker's national workforce.

GM's and Chrysler's caps were suspended last year until 2015 in modifications to the national agreement approved by UAW members, said Kristin Dziczek, director of labor and industry for the Center for Automotive Research.

"Without the caps, any GM or Chrysler plant could be 40% or more second-tier workers," depending on how many workers retire and on production volumes, she said.

While UAW officials say the deal at the Orion plant applies only there, Waun is among workers who fear that GM and other automakers will use it as a precedent at other plants.

Read more: Complaint on Orion taken to feds | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101028/BUSINESS01/10280460/1210/Complaint-on-Orion-taken-to-feds#ixzz13ezWXLkW

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