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Auto workers hit picket line
Many from Gwinnett take part

DORAVILLE - Local United Auto Workers members found themselves holding picket signs outside General Motors' Doraville plant rather than working inside it after a nationwide strike started late Monday morning.

This is the first nationwide strike during auto contract negotiations since 1976 and it will have an effect on Gwinnett residents and businesses alike.

Roughly half of the nearly 4,000 active and retired members of UAW Local 10 in Doraville live in Gwinnett County, said UAW Local 10 President Willie Monroe. Workers at General Motors' Doraville branch are members of the UAW Local 10.

"Hopefully they'll get this resolved," Monroe said. "We don't want to see a lengthy strike."

Monroe said union members will receive $200 a week from the UAW if the strike continues more than 15 days.

The main unresolved issue is the job security of workers at plants with no future products planned, said Michelle Krebs, senior editor at AutoObserver.com.

"A strike is good for no one: not for GM, the UAW, the Detroit area and other GM towns, nor the global economy," Krebs said.

That can certainly be seen in Gwinnett where several parts suppliers will be affected by the strike.

Nearly 50 employees will be temporarily laid off at Android Industries in Norcross, said Mark Blystone, the plant's manager. The automotive parts manufacturer's main customer is the General Motors plant in Doraville.

"It's tough," Blystone said of the temporary lay-offs. "It's really tough."

Monroe said Johnson Control Inc., which has facilities in Norcross and Suwanee, would also be affected by the strike.

Johnson Control Inc. did not return a call by press time on Monday to explain how the strike might affect its Gwinnett facilities.

General Motors and UAW both said negotiators will continue to try to work out an agreement.

The two groups began contract talks on July 23. The current contract between UAW and General Motors ended on September 14.

"We did everything possible to negotiate a new contract, including an unprecedented agreement to stay at the bargaining table nine days past the expiration of the previous agreement," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a press release.

General Motors said in its own press release it was disappointed UAW decided to call for the national strike.

"The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company," the press release said. "We are fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing General Motors."

General Motors has already announced plans to close the Doraville plant in 2008.