As negotiations between the United Auto Workers union or UAW and the Big Three automakers – GM, Stellantis, Ford – move into the final week before the September 14th deadline, several important GM facilities could be targeted in a bottleneck strike.
Using a bottleneck strike against GM and the other companies, Automotive News reports, could put intense pressure on the automakers while helping conserve the UAW’s $825 million strike fund.
In a bottleneck strike, only key factories where high-value components are produced would be targeted, rather than a general strike by all of the UAW’s approximately 150,000 members among Big Three employees. By targeting plants that produce components for the most profitable models of GM, Ford, and Stellantis, the strike would have a disproportionate impact on the Big Three.
Meanwhile, fewer workers would be on strike and receiving the $500 weekly strike pay provided by the UAW. By conserving strike pay funds, the plan for a simultaneous strike against all three companies would be more viable and the strike could be sustained for a longer period of time. The strike would have a downstream effect as other plants were idled with essential components unavailable.
Automotive News identifies Romulus Powertrain plant in Michigan as one potentially juicy target. Romulus produces the GM 10-speed automatic transmission, which provides cog swaps in a number of The General’s top nameplates, including the Chevy Silverado, the Chevy Tahoe, the GMC Sierra, the GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade. It also produces V6 engines used to motivate the Chevy Blazer, Chevy Camaro, and several Cadillac crossover models.
Another target might be the GM Toledo Powertrain plant in Ohio, which produces a variety of transmissions and recently received a $760 million investment to tool up for production of EV drive units for several GM Ultium-based trucks, including the Chevy Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV, and GMC Hummer EV.
The third possible GM facility that might be targeted with a bottleneck strike is Marion Metal Center, a metal stamping operations in Marion, Indiana producing steel and aluminum parts for the Buick, Cadillac, Chevy, and GMC brands.
The possibility of a bottleneck strike at GM and other automakers remains speculative at this point, with the UAW providing no details of its strike strategy. Recent remarks by the aggressive new UAW president Shawn Fain potentially hint at a more selective application of pressure than a simple general strike.
Fain used a recent Facebook livestream to assure UAW members “we have a plan.” He went on to say that “come September 14th, if these companies don’t deliver, they’re going to see that plan unfold.”
Notably, however, a bottleneck strike might be open to legal challenges from the Big Three. Union locals are only allowed to strike over local issues, not overall issues affecting the whole union. GM and the other automakers could potentially have the strike declared illegal if they could prove this rule applied to the attempted bottleneck labor stoppage.
Meanwhile, a former GM executive says meeting all of the UAW’s demands – including a 46 percent pay raise and a 32-hour work week – would bankrupt the Big Three. Top GM executives also recently revealed the UAW has presented a list of nearly 1,000 demands during the current contract negotiations.