Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | 6:36 p.m.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Workers at the General Motors plant in Kentucky that assembles Corvettes voted Tuesday to authorize a strike over lingering safety concerns, but a local union leader said he hopes the differences can be resolved without a walkout.
Union members voted overwhelmingly to give union leaders the green light to call a strike if necessary. About 800 union workers were eligible to vote, and more than 90 percent of those casting ballots backed the strike authorization, said Eldon Renaud, president of United Auto Workers Local 2164
Renaud said issues involved were safety and quality control.
He said there have been several "near misses" that could have resulted in serious injuries for assembly line workers at the Bowling Green plant. The union also worries that the elimination of quality control positions will affect the integrity of the plant's quality procedures, he said.
Renaud said he was confident the strike-authorization vote would get the "immediate attention" of management, resulting in stepped up negotiations.
"We're like everybody else, we're strike-shy," he said. "Nobody wants to have a strike. Who really benefits by it?"
The plant said the safety of its employees and the quality of its products are at the forefront of every decision.
"We're confident that we can work together and have a strong track record of creative problem solving," the plant said in a statement.
The vote comes just weeks after the retirement of plant manager Dave Tatman. Jeff Lamarche was named to the post in February, with his official start date at Tatman's departure, according to The Daily News of Bowling Green.
The plant was closed for a few months last year, gearing up and retooling for production of the Stingray that has been on showroom floors since last fall.