Costly UAW strike v. American Axle drags on

A supplier strike that has idled all or part of 29 General Motors Corp. plants, including one in Wentzville, may last into late April, the leader of a research center said. "It looks to me that it's got the ingredients of a rather long strike" and may continue for up to 60 days, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "I don't see anything that would suggest a settlement is imminent."

The walkout began Feb. 26 and includes about 3,650 workers at American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Corp., GM's largest supplier of axles. The United Auto Workers union has cited wage, health care and pension issues.

GM's large inventory of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles that American Axle makes parts for, combined with slow U.S. auto sales, means less pressure to settle, Cole said.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner on Tuesday said the strike had had a "negligible" effect on the automaker's retail sales.

The automaker had an average 105-day supply of the pickups and SUVs that use American Axle parts, according to Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. Analysts consider a 60-day supply typical.

If the strike continues into next week, GM will have to shut truck plants in Arlington, Texas, and Silao, Mexico, Rod Lache, a New York-based analyst with Deutsche Bank AG, said.


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