Workers, car owners, dealers and GM feel pinch from strike

Mara Paulic, a 42-year GM employee, pickets outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in Parma, Ohio. The strike against General Motors by 49,000 United Auto Workers entered its second week Monday with progress reported in negotiations but no clear end in sight. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

DETROIT (AP) — As the United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors stretches into a second week, it’s not just the company and striking workers getting pinched.

With many replacement part warehouses shut down, dealers are beginning to run short of components to repair cars, trucks and SUVs. And companies that make auto parts are also starting to see work slow down. Dealer inventory of new vehicles is holding up but starting to get depleted on a few models.

Meanwhile, GM is losing millions of dollars and has been forced to close one Canadian factory and send workers home at another. The 49,000 striking workers are going to have to get by on $250 per week in strike pay.

This doesn’t even include the restaurants and other businesses around the more than 30 U.S. factories that have been closed due to the strike.

And the longer the strike lasts, the worse it will get for everyone.

The biggest impact so far seems to be the lack of availability of some replacement parts for GM vehicles. The strike has shut down a parts depot in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Southeast region normally gets its replacements, said Ed Williamson, who owns several GM dealers in the Miami area.

Parts suppliers, especially smaller ones where GM is the main customer, are also starting to get hit, says Morningstar analyst David Whiston. Even bigger ones like Magna International, a Canadian company that makes components for many GM models, is reporting temporary layoffs at some of its U.S. and Canadian operations.

GM spokesman Jim Cain acknowledged there are some parts shortages, but says it is still shipping parts from depots staffed by management, dealers that stockpile parts for sale to other dealers, and outside companies that make parts for GM vehicles.

“Obviously it’s a difficult situation, and we are working to find other sources of parts around the country,” he said.

GM had a hefty 77-day supply of vehicles at the end of August, but big SUVs were only at about 55 days, lower than the industry average of 61. With no shipments since Sept. 16, supplies are starting to drop.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader, said dealers have told her that they’ll have ample supply for another week or so. Sales in September thus far have been slowing from August levels, so supplies aren’t being depleted that quickly, she said.

Williamson said he’s still got plenty of vehicles, including 80 to 90 days worth of big SUVs such as the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.

But he’s running short of the Cadillac XT5 midsize SUV.


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