As UAW Strike Rolls Into Third Week, Layoffs, Stoppages Result

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

The strike against General Motors has resulted in layoffs and product stoppages, but Autotrader’s Michelle Krebs says a potential compromise is still unclear.

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United Auto Workers on the picket line at GM's Hamtramck Assembly Plant.Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

United Auto Workers on the picket line at GM’s Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

Conveyor belts at General Motors assembly plants nationwide remain stationary, as members of the United Auto Workers union continue their stay on the picket line.

While contract talks between the two sides are ongoing, GM’s global supply chain is starting to feel the impact of the holdout. The auto manufacturer has now announced layoffs for 6,000 of its employees in Mexico as a result.

Striking UAW members say they hope this round of collective bargaining delivers better health benefits and a path to full time status for temporary workers.

WDET’s Alex McLenon speaks with Autotrader executive analyst Michelle Krebs about where things stand on both sides.

Click on the player above to hear the interview with Autotrader’s Michelle Krebs, and read excerpts, edited for length and clarity, below.

WDET: The strike is now in its third week. Where do things stand with the union and General Motors?

Michelle Krebs, Autotrader: This is now the longest strike against GM by the UAW since 1970. Both sides are not in a particularly great position. The UAW members who are on strike just started collecting their strike pay, which is $250 a week, and General Motors is still not making vehicles, so it is not generating revenue. It is now extending into GM’s fourth quarter and so it looks like GM may be in jeopardy of not having that strong 2nd half that they had projected.

Around the time the strike started, General Motors laid off some workers in Canada in anticipation of what the strike might do to its supply chain. What kind of impact is this having on GM internationally?

Krebs: Well, General Motors did lay off some workers in Canada because parts go back and fourth across the Canadian and Mexican border, and when they aren’t being produced those plants can’t make the vehicles. And we are starting to see some parts suppliers shut down and lay off workers because there are no vehicles to put the parts into.

The other thing that we’re seeing is that dealers have been mostly untouched, except for the fact that they don’t have replacement parts for their service customers. So we’re hearing across the country that dealers are canceling service appointments with consumers until they can get the parts. In some cases they’re offering courtesy transportation if the cars are un-drivable. So it’s starting to have an impact across the nation and even across the border.

Any signs of how much longer the strike will last, or would that all be speculation at this point?

Krebs: Totally. It’s surpassed my expectation. I really thought it might possibly be a short strike but there are very difficult issues on both sides. GM wants to rein in costs, the UAW wants to secure jobs, and the ways to get there for both are opposite paths.

Alex McLenon, Associate Producer

Alex McLenon is an Associate Producer with 101.9 WDET. McLenon has many interests; from cars and sports to arts and science. During college he amassed four years of experience as a Zamboni driver and acknowledges spending far too much money on his CD collection.

Follow @alexmclenon

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