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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.

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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.''

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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