DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- A union representing 2,000 workers at a suburban General Motors plant wants employees to have a chance to transfer to other GM plants when the factory closes but is frustrated at the pace of contract talks, officials said Thursday.
The International Union of Electronic Workers-Communication Workers of America Local 798 represents hourly workers at the Moraine sport-utility vehicle plant.
Union leaders say General Motors Corp. has a responsibility to speed up contract negotiations, especially after announcing in June that production at the plant will end by 2010 or earlier. Two weeks ago, GM said it plans to eliminate the second of the plant's two shifts on Sept. 26, putting 1,000 employees out of work.
For the past three weeks GM negotiators have said they were coming to Moraine to engage in talks, but never have, said Gaylen Turner, president of Local 798. However, he said GM has scheduled a meeting for Friday.
"This is a step in the right direction," Turner said. "We're not pleased that it has taken as long as it has. The pace has been extremely slow."
He said workers at the plant are trying to plan their futures and need to know their options.
"They're angry. They're frustrated," Turner said. "It is an important issue for us because we don't have anywhere to go."
GM spokesman Tony Sapienza said the automaker is aggressively pursuing a new contract with the union.
"We're obviously fully engaged," Sapienza said. "The talks have important implications for both of us."
While Sapienza would not confirm that transfer rights are among the issues in the talks, he said allowing workers to transfer from one plant to another is a complex process.
"There are a lot of things to consider," he said.
Turner agreed, saying transfers must not only be approved by GM but also the United Auto Workers union, which represents workers at other GM plants. And he said he doesn't know how many of the Moraine plant's 2,000 workers would elect to transfer and move out of the area if they had the opportunity.
GM plans to add workers at its Lordstown, Ohio, plant, which makes fuel-efficient cars that are selling well, and where the company intends to build a new compact car called the Cruze. Workers at the Moraine plant assemble the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Saab 9-7X and Isuzu Ascender sport utility vehicles.
GM has said it plans to speed up closure of both the Moraine and Janesville, Wis., plants. The state of Wisconsin is seeking $3.8 million in emergency federal funds to help workers in the Janesville area laid off by GM and its suppliers.