GM keeping US plant to end strike
General Motors is keeping a Detroit plant open, investing $3 billion to convert it to electric pickups, vans, and batteries, as part of its efforts to end a long United Auto Workers (UAW) strike. The union had demanded greater fairness with regard to treatment of newer employees, including reduced use of temps; unchanged health insurance benefits; and the cancellation of four plant closings. The union ended up with the health insurance benefits and one of the four plants, along with an $11,000 per person signing bonus.
The union may also have kept Missouri and Lansing, Michigan plants open, and building midsize pickups and new midsize SUVs. While this may not sound like an achievement, GM has increasingly been turning to low-wage plants in Mexico for production, more than Ford or Fiat Chrysler (FCA), to the point where GM actually has fewer United States workers than its domestic and semi-domestic competitors.
Three other plants, in Ohio, Maryland, and Warren, Michigan (the latter making transmissions) are still closing, along with a small parts center in California. While the Lordstown, Ohio small-car plant is shuttered and to be sold, GM will make battery cells nearby, assuming a small company can make enough electric pickups to stay viable. This will be a tough job given that GM, Rivian, and Tesla will all be making electric pickups as well.
The voting process will start this weekend and continue until roughly next Saturday; the union will remain on strike until the contract is ratified. While most reporters covering the strike estimate that the company has lost $1 billion during this time, GM dealers are still selling cars, and the company had excessively high inventories when it began; it seems likely that there have been relatively few lost sales, and GM may have stretched the process out partly to reduce the size of its fleet.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.