GM Strike: Et Tu, Saturn?

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Now there really is trouble in paradise. A startling 96 percent of 5,000 autoworkers at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., have voted to OK a strike in the event that talks with their bosses at General Motors, set to resume Tuesday, break down. Not only is Saturn the only GM plant in the U.S. still turning out cars, it's also supposed to be a utopia for management-labor relations. But the marriage has been troubled for some time, and Sunday's vote was effectively a Dear John letter to GM chairman John F. Smith Jr. "We can't continue to live a lie that this partnership is alive and healthy when it's not," said Saturn bargaining chief Mike Bennett.

No wonder Saturnites feel aggrieved. They're GM's success story of the decade, yet the suits are trying to cut their bonuses from $1,400 to $390. And while clunkers such as the Chevy Metro and the entire Oldsmobile line live on in Detroit, corporate infighting has prevented Saturn from adding a new model since 1992. As the autoworker union's vice president tells TIME this week, "You never have to phony things up with GM to get a strike going. There are always enough legitimate issues around." Management had better hope that the independent arbitrator who is being brought in declares the whole strike illegal Wednesday. Otherwise, it'll actually have to start dealing with those issues.