UAW Makes Third Attempt To Save N.Y. Plant

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- A United Auto Workers local in New York will hold a third contract vote in an attempt to save the New Process Gear auto parts plant from closing, even though the union has no guarantee Magna International will reconsider its plans to shutter the factory.

Members of United Auto Workers Local 624 will meet Saturday to vote on a new contract that includes wage and benefit concessions union officials hope will keep the struggling suburban Syracuse plant open. The plant builds transfer cases for SUVs and trucks.

"It's our hope that it will provide a tool to go back to the company in these economic times to convince Magna that Syracuse, N.Y., is a plant worth keeping open," said Scott Stanton, the local's president.

"We're hopeful it will get the company's attention," Stanton told The Post-Standard of Syracuse.

If the contract passes, the union plans to present it to Magna.

Magna officials declined comment about whether they would reconsider the closing if workers agree to concessions.

Spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst said Wednesday the Canadian company was continuing with its shutdown plan. Magna has already auctioned off some of its old, unused equipment, she said.

The union didn't release details of its latest contract offer. Members will hear about the details Saturday, and then vote on it immediately afterward.

The latest proposal is almost the same as a deal that 52 percent of the workers rejected in March, officials said . A similar contract was rejected in February by 76 percent of workers.

Under the previous three-year proposal, workers would have kept their current wages of $20.16 an hour if the plant reached certain performance milestones. If the plant had only come close, wages would have fallen to $16 per hour. Just two years ago, workers were paid more than $29 an hour.

Even if the plant had reached its milestones, the company planned to cut the work force almost in half, from 1,400 to 760. At its peak in 2002, the plant employed 4,000.

Without concessions on pay and work rules, Magna has said the plant can't compete and must close. The plant lost $117 million in 2007.

As a result of Chrysler's bankruptcy, the international UAW now owns 55 percent of that company, which is one of NPG's customers, Stanton noted.

"It's our hope ... our new ownership of 55 percent of Chrysler will enhance our influence on where the work will go," he said.

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