UAW strike forces GM to close Mexican pickup truck factory

The General Motors world headquarters building is shown September 17, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

DETROIT (AP) — A strike by the United Auto Workers union has caused a parts shortage, forcing General Motors to shut down its pickup truck and transmission factories in Silao, Mexico.

Spokesman Dan Flores confirmed that production at the factories ended Tuesday morning, affecting 6,000 workers.

The plant shutdown means that GM has lost any new supplies of its light-duty Chevrolet Silverado, the company’s top-selling U.S. vehicle. Earlier GM had to close a Mexican engine plant and an assembly plant in Canada due to the strike.

The strike by over 49,000 union workers is now in its third week, and both sides are feeling the impact. Workers are having to get by on $250 per week in strike pay instead of their normal base pay of about $1,200 per week.

The 16-day strike has cost GM just over $1 billion, JP Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman estimated Tuesday in a note to investors.

The losses are mounting each week the strike continues, costing GM about $480 million in the first week and another $575 million in the second, Brinkman wrote. The company is losing $82 million per day.

GM books revenue from building vehicles as soon as they change hands from the factory to the company that ships them to dealers. So revenue has been counted already for nearly all vehicles that are in dealer hands. Many dealers stocked up before the strike and report having plenty of inventory.

The Silao plant shutdown puts more pressure on GM to bring an end to the strike, but it has to balance the short-term losses against extra costs that could come from settling the strike, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Short-term, this is costing them, absolutely,” Dziczek said. “It goes back to cost versus principles. Are the things that they would have to give to end the strike precedents that they would be living with for decades to come?”

Brinkman wrote that GM could recover some of its lost profits by increasing production in the fourth quarter once the strike comes to an end. But the company likely will be limited to add production of vehicles that already are in high demand or where new models are being launched, such as GM’s heavy-duty Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra pickup trucks, Brinkman wrote.

GM’s pickup truck and large SUV plants already were working six or seven days per week to meet demand before the strike, so increasing production will be difficult.

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