UPDATE: We've learned that the UAW contract disputes aren't likely to affect the introduction of the 2008 Malibu, since it will be built on the Epsilon I platform, which is still on track. The negotiations, however, may affect the debut of the next-generation Malibu and Aura, both of which will move to the Epsilon II platform.
The turnaround at General Motors is in full swing thanks to a bevy of new models on the horizon. One of those promising products is the new Chevy Malibu, which we're looking forward to reviewing as soon as possible. It turns out we may have to wait longer than expected to get behind the wheel of the new Epsilon 2-based Malibu. Apparently contract negotiations with the local UAW at GM's Lordstown, Ohio and Fairfax, Kansas plants have hit a snag. The Lordstown plant builds many of GM's Delta-based models, including the Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5, and is earmarked to build the next generation of Delta-based models, as well. The Fairfax plant, meanwhile, builds the current Malibu and Pontiac G6, but is being renovated to handle the new Malibu and Saturn Aura.
GM had asked for some big concessions from the local unions at both plants that included 10-hour shifts with no overtime and the ability to hire some non-union workers to do janitorial work, unload trucks and even do assembly in some cases. The local unions were very close to closing the deal with GM until the national UAW stepped in and stopped the talks.
The unions are reportedly seeking a guarantee that the next generation Delta and Epsilon 2 models will be built at these plants, which has come under question since GM has halted development of new assembly-line tooling for these vehicles. GM, on the other hand, claims to have halted the development of new tooling in response to these talks breaking down. Clearly there's some tit-for-tat going on here, and both sides hope things can be ironed out after UAW international reps meet with GM next week in Detroit.
[Source: Automotive News]