By Sally Klingel, Ann M. Martin
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Extra info for A Fighting Chance: New Strategies to Save Jobs and Reduce Costs
The initial response of the union leadership was to ignore the suggestion altogether. When the threat of a sixty-day notice was made, however, the shop committee felt it had no choice but to see what the people in the distribution center wanted to do. The shop committee got permission from the workers in the center to set up a team. Their distrust of management was so great at this point, however, that they insisted that Harrison Radiator and the VA W 41 the group be made up of hourly employees only.
In 1986, GM's Truck and Bus Division issued a sixtyday notice on its product that used the medium-duty radiator. The team went into high gear and even brought all 40 Harrison Radiator and the UA W the nonteam members in the department in on their efforts. They collected $200,000 worth of cost-saving ideas, identified $100,000 in overhead costs that they successfully argued did not belong on their books, and succeeded in winning the contract from the Truck and Bus Division for one year. Win-One continues to make copper and brass radiators while there are orders, but the team is also involved in developing an aluminum radiator that the department hopes will be the radiator of the future.
Other responses followed traditional adversarial labor relations lines. 2 million by cutting thirty-five jobs in the distribution center, one committee member said that the bid was just "another management blackmail tactic" to cut jobs. It was business as usual as far as the union was concerned: the union had not been consulted about how to improve the efficiency of the distribution center before the bid from Autocon was received. Harrison management believed, however, that by notifying the union and not invoking the contractual sixty-day countdown before actually outsourc- Hamson Radiator and the VA W 35 ing the work,* the union had indeed been asked to play a role in the decision to outsource.