Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

GM Faces Crippling Strike

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

GM Faces Crippling Strike

Article excerpt

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors was hit with its sixth strike of the year Wednesday, a walkout at a transmission and wheel factory that could force GM assembly plants to begin shutting down as early as today.

An estimated 2,800 employees represented by the United Auto Workers went on strike after midnight at the GM Powertrain Group plant in the Detroit suburb of Warren. The factory supplies virtually every GM assembly plant in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"We want an agreement as soon as possible," GM spokeswoman Darla Park said. The strike has the potential to be as devastating as one at two Dayton, Ohio, parts plants last year. That 17-day walkout forced the world's No. 1 automaker to shut down its North American production, at a cost of $900 million. Park declined to say how soon the Warren strike might affect GM's assembly operations or those of other automakers the plant supplies. But another GM source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Saturn car plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., is the only GM assembly installation that does not depend on parts from Warren. The first assembly plants could close today, the source said. Depending on how many parts are stockpiled, GM's North American assembly operations could be brought to halt within two weeks, the source said. About 14 GM car- and minivan-assembly plants use Warren transmissions. Other plants use Warren-made wheels and control arms, used in suspensions. The automaker has been fighting with its unions -- the UAW is by far the largest -- over cutbacks it says are needed to make it more competitive. A recent study showed that GM's assembly plants are the least productive among the major automakers manufacturing in the United States, but that they continue to make major strides. As GM has redesigned new models to require less labor to build, it has been using attrition to cut its work force. …

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