Local News

GM Strikes Bring Cutbacks to North Carolina

Posted June 22, 1998

— Strikes at two GM Michigan plants have now shut down all but four assembly plants in North America, and North Carolina is feeling the effects.

The Collins & Aikman plant in Roxboro makes cloth used for car seats, and about one third of their product is sold to General Motors.

With the national strike slowing down production, the plant is facing cutbacks in employee hours.

About 80 of 1,200 employees will have their hours reduced. Shirley Wagstaff worked at the plant for 25 years, and Tuesday she worked only four hours instead of her usual eight.

"You just have to go with whatever happens," Wagstaff said.

Company officials claim that the cutbacks are only short term and that benefits will not decrease, but that does not keep some employees from worrying.

"The temporaries are scared," plant employee G.C. Bowen said. "They know that they will probably get laid off if [the strikes] are prolonged."

The workers are not the only ones to feel the pinch from the strike, the gas station across the street will take a hit as well.

"Any business in Person county will be affected by anything that happens to C & A," gas station manager Bill Gentry said. "Strictly because of the manpower they employee."

Plant workers were warned last week when plant officials announced that their hours could be reduced. This cutback does not just affect new workers, but people who have worked there more than 20 years.

On the national scene more than 140,000 workers have been laid off. An economist figures the strike is costing GM $450 million a week in pre-tax profits. One of the key sticking points for GM strikers is keeping jobs in the US.


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