Friday, June 09, 2006

Tough bargainer Thurman may represent GM workers

June 9, 2006

Tough bargainer Thurman may represent GM workers

Terry Thurman, the man who could be appointed by United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger to represent General Motors Corp. hourly employees in the critical 2007 contract talks, is known as a tough and experienced bargainer.

As director of UAW Region 3 in Indianapolis, the 56-year-old Thurman represents union members at GM, Ford Motor Co, Chrysler Group, Delphi Corp. and other large suppliers.

Thurman, who declined interview requests, is described as a tenacious fighter for worker rights and a motivational speaker.

"He's not afraid to say what he thinks and thinks what he says," said Phil Tincher, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party and a former UAW member who has known Thurman more than 20 years. "He was always a guy who stood up for the working person, and I admired him for that."

When Indiana refused to recognize a state employee union in 1998, Thurman fought to change the state's perspective, Tincher said. "We tried to organize for years and finally, with help from Terry, we got a state employee union," Tincher said.

Thurman was also instrumental in helping some 350 union workers win a $5.25 million settlement last year after they were refused supplemental unemployment benefits when Delco Remy closed its Anderson, Ind., plant in 2003.

He also earned the admiration of UAW retirees, who credit him with increasing Region 3's representation on the UAW retiree committee. "He worked very closely with the Indiana State Council of Senior Citizens and the UAW retirement program," said Elmer Blankenship, a former assistant regional director who retired in 1991.

Thurman joined the UAW in 1978 at GM's powertrain factory in his hometown of Bedford, Ind. In 1986, he served as international representative on the Region 3 staff. Thurman was elected head of Region 3 in 1998.

Josee Valcourt


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