A university, a union, and an employer unite to save 200 jobs and a doomed plant. The University of Alabama, a local of the United Auto Workers, and General Motors will keep open GM's Rochester Products Division plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. , as an ''applied research facility.'' The coalition will seek ways to improve the competitive position of small industrial facilities through a ''factory of the future'' concept.

Workers will contribute a part of their earnings to a trust fund to be used to help find ways to reduce plant operating costs by $2 million annually.

The university's college of engineering has automotive-oriented study and research projects underway that could spark more productive plant operations. Alabama's college of commerce and business administration will look at ''innovative ways to manage an industrial facility.''

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UAW is enthusiastic about the three-year plan, under which ''our members will keep their jobs, GM will learn how to save money through improved technology and management, and the university will collect a significant body of research in [a ] vital area.''m

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