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UAW strike hasn’t affected Janesville

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JAMES P. LEUTE
February 26, 2008
— A United Auto Workers strike against a key supplier to both General Motors and Chrysler isn’t expected to have an immediate effect on manufacturing operations at GM’s assembly plant in Janesville.

But immediate is a relative word, and the local plant could be affected if the UAW’s strike against the Detroit-based American Axle and Manufacturing Holding lingers.


The UAW struck American Axle early today after negotiators reached an impasse over wage cuts for 3,600 company employees based in Detroit and near Buffalo, N.Y.


GM buys more than 70 percent of parts made by American Axle, including drive train and chassis systems and related components for light trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers.


“There is no impact on our current operations,” said GM spokesman Tom Wickham. “We’re monitoring the situation and aren’t going to speculate on future developments.”


A prolonged strike could force GM to close several truck assembly plants. In March 2004, a brief strike at American Axle forced GM to close plants in Pontiac, Mich., and Fort Wayne, Ind., and to slow production at a plant in Flint, Mich.


GM’s truck plants in Janesville; Arlington, Texas, and Oshawa, Ont., were not affected by the 2004 strike.


That’s because American and GM were able to move parts inventories around to keep critical plants in production, a common practice when suppliers go on strike.


American Axle appears to have stockpiled some parts to weather a two- or three-day strike without jeopardizing production at GM or Chrysler, which uses American’s parts in its truck line.


Material from Gazette wire services was used in this story.

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