Tracey E. Schelmetic
While the two-week old strike against GM by the United Auto Workers (UAW) may not have affected consumers and dealerships directly, that could be about to change, at least for dealers who service GM vehicles and consumers who drive them. Some dealers are reporting that it’s becoming difficult to get GM-certified parts for cars in need of repairs or body work, particularly for parts that are typically ordered on an as-needed basis, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“The parts impact is greater for us than the vehicle inventory impact is at the moment,” said John Pitre, COO for Motor City Buick GMC in Bakersfield, California. “If you need an outside door handle for a 2018 GMC Sierra pickup, there’s only one place to get it, and they’re closed.”
GM is attempting to mitigate the problem by shipping parts directly from suppliers as well as offering some customers free transportation if they must wait for service.
“Negotiations between GM and the UAW continue but our ability to ship parts from our distribution facilities is limited,” said GM senior communications manager Jim Cain. “Our dealers have a limited supply of parts, however, we are supplementing customer needs with inventories from a group of wholesale dealers and ACDelco distributors.”
There is evidence that some parts suppliers, however, are faring better than they might have years ago during a strike. Lessons learned after the recession of 2008 have led some parts suppliers into diversifying their product lines to serve more than one OEM as a hedge against future downturns, former Toyota executive Carol Sampson, executive director of Foundations Human Resources Consulting in Lexington, Kentucky, told Commercial Appeal.
“You started to see a lot more suppliers make a conscious effort to try and supply every OEM,” said Sampson.
While there are no predictions about how long the UAW strike will last, involved parties have indicated that progress is being made. Last week, Terry Dittes, vice president for the UAW’s GM Department, told union members in a letter that negotiators have been working “countless hours” to reach a tentative contract with GM, and that all issues are now on the table to be worked through.