More than 49,000 workers walked off their jobs in a dispute over the union’s quest to get a bigger share of GM’s profits and the company’s goal of cutting labor costs.
On the picket lines, many workers were hoping for a quick resolution, but said they’re willing to stay out as long as needed.
“I can’t see this lasting too long,” said machinist Clarence Trinity as he carried a union sign at GM’s engine and transmission factory in the Detroit suburb of Romulus, Michigan. “Both sides are losing bad.”
Citi analyst Itay Michaeli, in a note to investors, estimated that the strike is costing the company $100 million per day in earnings. However, GM has enough inventory to supply dealers for 77 days at the current sales pace, although it’s running lower on big SUVs, according to Cox Automotive.
If the strike ends soon, GM will be able to crank up production to make up for lost production time and mitigate some of the losses. But if it lasts more than a week, it will start to affect parts suppliers and production in Canada and Mexico, putting more pressure on GM’s inventory. If supplies dwindle, consumers may go to other brands, costing GM sales and market share.
GM and the union are negotiating at a time of troubling uncertainty for the U.S. auto industry.
President Trump is said to be on the Union’s side – an interesting position for the president, but telling in that he needs the blue collar vote, especially in states in GM’s backyard, such as Michigan and Ohio.
Trump, who is notoriously pro-corporation and anti-worker, will try to convince voters that he has their best interests at heart.
It remains to be seen if this messaging resonates with voters a second time. Blue collar workers that voted for Trump in the last election may now feel that the president lied to them, evidenced by his tax policies that favor the ultra rich and corporations, and well as his cutbacks in public education, school lunch programs, clean water and air, welfare, and programs that support the lower to middle class.
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