The United Auto Workers strike has taken another bite out of General Motors production as the company was forced to shut down part of its engine plant in Ramos Arizpe due to a shortage of parts made in factories hit by the walkout.
GM spokesman Dan Flores said shutting down production of V8 engines and CVTs at the Ramos Arizpe will idle roughly 415 workers. They will either take vacation time or if they don’t have vacation time available, the workers receive a portion of their compensation, Flores said.
The Ramos propulsion plant continues to build the six cylinder engines for the Ramos assembly plant where production continues, Flores said.
Last week, GM was forced to close the pickup truck plant in Silao, Mexico, idling some 6,000 employees. Some 2,500 GM workers in Canada also have been sent home due to the strike by 48,000 UAW members at 30 plants across the United States.
The strike also has idled several thousand employees working for suppliers across North America as suppliers such as Nexteer, Lear, Magna, Martinrea and Linamar have shut down operations in response to the walkout.
Unifor, the union representing auto workers in Canada, estimated that the strike has idled more than 2,000 workers in Ontario and the Mexican press has reported that more than a dozen maquiladora plants in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, also have closed due to the strike.
Analysts believe the Ramos Arizpe assembly plant could wind up shutting down sometime this week, which would be a major blow to GM since the plant is capable for producing 350,000 vehicles and builds a range to crossover vehicles, including the new Chevrolet Blazer, forcing even more layoffs in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
GM’s announcement in the summer of 2018 to build the Blazer in Mexico helped set the stage for the strike, according to UAW members now on the picket line, who said the decision underscored the company’s indifference to the concerns of its employees.
The UAW’s negotiators are still pressing GM to find a way to reverse the decision or place another product in the company’s assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
The Lordstown plant is now “unallocated,” according to GM. But the campaign to save the plant is still very much alive on social media even as the strike continues to grind on and the plant’s fate could loom large in the ratification of a tentative agreement between GM and the UAW.
Meanwhile, company and union bargainers also have yet to reach agreement on the key issues at the heart of the dispute about the new contract such as health care, wages and the status and compensation of temporary workers and employees in the skilled trades.
In addition, GM and the UAW also apparently squabbling over real estate. GM wants to sell or find other uses for the joint GM-UAW Human Resources Center, which opened more two decades ago and sits on a piece of property fronting the Detroit River, which has gained in value throughout the years.
GM has declined to discuss the issue but the sources familiar with the bargaining noted that the fate of the GM Center ultimately is also linked to the joint-training centers operated by the UAW and FCA and the UAW and Ford, which also occupy valuable real estate in the center of Detroit. The Ford Center is particularly valuable since it sits on highly visible site fronting the Detroit River next to the city’s convention center.
Ford and the UAW had discussed selling the center during the Great Recession but ultimately decided to hang on to the property.
The joint-training centers themselves are at the heart of a federal investigation into corruption inside the union and have been the sources of developments that have proven enormously embarrassment to the UAW such as the thousands of dollars cash gifts to General Holiefield, the former head of the union’s Chrysler Department and his successor, Norwood Jewell.
The UAW-GM Training Center is at the center of a separate scandal, involving steering work to vendors who paid more than $1 million in kickbacks to union officials who arranged the contracts, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors.