UAW unions, contracts, to consolidate

LORDSTOWN — Local meetings are expected to begin this week to negotiate the terms of the consolidation of United Auto Workers Local 1714 into UAW 1112, according to union leaders at the General Motors Lordstown complex.

Robert Morales, president of UAW 1714, which represents employees of the stamping plant at the complex, and Glenn Johnson, president of UAW 1112, which will go from representing workers at the assembly plant to workers at the entire complex, both said a timeline for the transition into one union is uncertain. It could take days, weeks or months to come to an agreement on local plant issues not mandated by the national contract with GM.

The corporation will not, for the most part, be involved in the local discussions, Morales said. But the decision to combine the unions came from GM and the national UAW, Morales said.

Johnson said the complex, with about 3,000 employees, was the last to have two unions representing workers on the assembly end and on the stamping end of the business.

“We knew the writing was on the wall,” Johnson said.

But still, the announcement was quite a surprise to members, Johnson and Morales said.

“At this point, I’d have to describe the reaction as surprise,” Morales said. “I’ve taken a lot of phone calls since the announcement. We have a long, 47-year history and we are proud of it. Many sacrificed so much through the years for the local 1714. We want to preserve our past, and make the best of our present. But we also have to think about our future. If we get another 47 years out of this, then all of this it worth it.”

The decision was necessary to put GM and the Lordstown complex in “the best possible position to obtain future products and possibly extend Cruze production,” Johnson said.

“It is bittersweet. I’m sad that it had to come to this, but we have to understand the nature of the business and I think we as leaders made the right choice,” Johnson said.

Shrinking membership and the cost of negotiating with two unions was a factor in the choice, Johnson said.

Over the next week, discussions will begin and union members will have face-to-face discussions on the change.

“We will have an open and honest conversation with them, like the democracy we are. We are going to bring all the members in and make sure they are heard,” Johnson said. “It is time to move on into the future and make sure they can do the important work they do every day that provides for their families.”