The United Auto Workers union’s targeted strike strategy continues to result in the “big three” auto companies temporarily laying off workers as work stoppages slow production up and down the supply chain. General Motors workers at a plant in Marion are among the latest to feel the effects.
The UAW expanded strikes to multiple plants last Friday to apply pressure as contract negotiations continue. For the third week in a row, no Ford, General Motors or Stellantis facilities in Indiana were called to join the picket lines.
For GM, strikes have hit two Michigan assembly plants and all of the company’s parts distribution centers — costing the company nearly $200 million so far, according to a JP Morgan estimate reported by Reuters. The Anderson Economic Group estimates all three companies lost more than $1.6 billion combined in the strikes’ first week.
GM announced Monday it is temporarily laying off workers at two aluminum stamping plants because of the strikes – including just more than 30 workers in Marion and another 130 in Parma, Ohio. UAW Local 977, which represents those workers, declined to comment. The Marion plant has about 700 workers in total, according to GM.
“The UAW leadership’s decision to call a strike at GM Wentzville Assembly, and now GM Lansing Delta Township Assembly, continues to have negative ripple effects,” said GM in a statement about the layoffs. “We have said repeatedly that nobody wins in a strike, and this is yet another demonstration of that fact. We will continue to bargain in good faith with the union to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.”
The parts they produce are also used in production at the GM Fort Wayne Assembly plant. Rich Leterneau, shop chairman for UAW Local 2209, said he doesn’t expect these layoffs to affect the assembly’s operations.
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Indiana, like most states, does not allow workers to collect unemployment benefits if they are out of work because of their own union’s strike. Local and national union officials say the UAW will ensure members laid off due to the strikes are compensated.
Local UAW officials in Kokomo said in interviews about 300 of their members are to get strike pay after Stellantis temporarily laid them off last week. The company said the Kokomo layoffs are the result of the UAW’s targeted strike at its assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio. As production stopped there, Stellantis said it is facing “storage constraints” that require reduced production at two of its five Kokomo parts plants and another plant in Ohio.
WBOI's Tony Sandleben contributed reporting to this story.