A long strike against GM could affect hundreds of local workers

Published: Thursday, September 12, 2019 @ 2:16 PM

General Motors is the 60 percent owner of the Moraine DMAX plant. TY GREENLEES/STAFF
General Motors is the 60 percent owner of the Moraine DMAX plant. TY GREENLEES/STAFF

An enduring United Auto Workers (UAW) walkout against General Motors could affect Dayton-area auto parts suppliers — and hundreds of area employees.

But GM has enough inventory to weather a short walkout, according to at least one industry assessment.

David Kudla, founder and chief executive of Mainstay Capital Management in Grand Blanc, Mich., believes a UAW strike against GM could have a real impact on the Moraine DMAX plant, which produces the Duramax diesel engine.

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“It would have a very serious impact, because they’re making engines for the Chevy Silverado, heavy duty, and GMC Sierra,” Kudla said. “Although they are not UAW locals, a UAW-represented plant, because they’re supplying UAW plants … it would idle that plant at some point.”

If GM leaders think the company is approaching a strike situation, the automaker could try to stockpile inventories.

But GM can do only so much, Kudla said.

“If a strike went that long (greater than 60 to 80 days), even though they are not UAW-represented, at some point it would idle that plant,” he said of DMAX.

Current UAW contracts with all three American automakers are due to expire after 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

The UAW singled out GM as its lead strike target in contract talks, and after two months of bargaining, all eyes are on those sessions in the final days before contracts expire.

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Kristin Dziczek, a vice president of labor and industry with the Center for Automotive Research, has put the likelihood of a strike at greater than 50 percent, according to a Bloomberg report.

Beyond a strike, other possibilities include the UAW presenting members with a tentative proposed agreement or an extension of the current contract to continue talks. There’s also the possibility that a strike could be directed only at some of GM’s plants, narrowing its impact somewhat.

Some big Dayton-area employers do supply GM, including DMAX in Moraine, with more than 800 workers, and Fuyao Glass America, also in Moraine, with more than 2,000 workers.

Any strike impact on Fuyao would be limited, Kudla said.

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The Duramax diesel is offered as an option for the GMC Sierra and GMC Canyon, as well as the 2020 Silverado 1500 heavy-duty trucks. The local DMAX plant is 60 percent owned by GM, but its workers are represented by the IUE-CWA union, not the UAW.

Cox Automotive estimates that GM’s inventory of trucks and SUVs in total stands at about 80 days. Truck inventory tends to be higher than car inventories because trucks come in so many configurations, Cox said.

Vehicles in short supply are the high-profit-margin Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, at 57 and 58 days supply, respectively, compared with 64 days for the industry segment, Cox said.

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“GM’s goal is to continue having constructive discussions with the UAW on reaching an agreement that builds a strong future for our employees and our business,” said GM spokesman James Cain. He did not respond to a question about the automaker’s current inventory.

A message was sent to a UAW representative. Terry Dittes, a UAW vice president, sent a message to union members Sept. 5 saying talks are “progressing slowly.” 

Cox Automotive is part of Cox Enterprises, which also owns Cox Media Group, of which the Dayton Daily News is a part.