The United Auto Workers Tuesday said its U.S. hourly workers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi Corp.

tosses out its labor contracts as part of its reorganization.

Over 95 percent of votes cast authorized the UAW to call a strike, said the union, which represents about 24,000 Delphi U.S. hourly workers at 21 facilities. Delphi has more than 33,000 U.S. hourly workers overall.

Unions have threatened to strike if Delphi voids the labor contracts. A strike could quickly halt North American production at the Troy, Michigan-based parts maker, former parent General Motors Corp. (GM) and other auto and truck manufacturers.

However, such a move likely would not happen for at least several weeks. Delphi in late March filed court papers seeking to void its union contracts after failing to obtain wage and benefit cuts from its unions.

A hearing on the request began last week and is set to continue later in May in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Judge Robert Drain would not be expected to rule on the request for at least days or weeks afterward.

Last week, Drain encouraged Delphi and the unions to pursue an out-of-court settlement and in other bankruptcy cases, judges have put off ruling on requests to void labor contracts for extended periods while the sides negotiate.

GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner recently called resolving the dispute between Delphi and the unions an urgent priority and analyst's quoted GM's CFO as saying he expected a deal with Delphi and the UAW within 60 days.

UAW local unit leaders had said workers had little choice but to authorize a strike, if necessary, against Delphi, which has proposed to slash wages by two-thirds, cut benefits, close numerous U.S. union plants and trim thousands of jobs.

Members of the other union that represents a large number of Delphi's U.S. hourly workers — the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America with 8,500 — already have approved strikes if necessary.

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