General Motors Corp. and possibly other automakers could face a general strike next year if they continue trying to break the United Auto Workers, union president Owen Bieber said.
"Do not forget it takes two to make peace, but only one to make war," Bieber said Sunday in a speech opening the union's 30th Constitutional Convention, which ends Friday. "Be very careful. Do not miscalculate."UAW contracts with GM, Ford and Chrysler, where 400,000 of the union's approximately 814,000 members are employed, expire in September 1993.
GM plans to close or reduce 21 plants and cut 74,000 jobs by 1995 but hasn't identified all the plants yet. UAW officials say GM is "whipsawing" the union by playing locals at different plants against each other to see which will give the most concessions.
In February, GM announced it was closing a plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., that makes rear-wheel-drive large cars and sparing a similar plant in Arlington, Texas. Workers in Arlington agreed to consider work-rule changes, such as a third shift, while those in Michigan did not.
UAW officials said then they might have to call their first companywide strike against GM since 1984 to protest the company's actions.
GM has denied it played plants against each other but has said that the willingness of individual plants to consider work-rule changes figured in decisions to determine which operations it should close.
The union managed to avoid being picketed at its own convention by a hotel workers union angry that UAW delegates were booked in non-union hotels. The UAW broke its contract at one hotel and apologized for the oversight in using others.