US auto workers union to expand strike at 38 GM, Stellantis parts distribution facilities

Adam Yanelli

22-Sep-2023

HOUSTON (ICIS)–United Auto Workers (UAW) membership will begin a “Stand Up Strike” at 38 Stellantis and GM parts distribution centres at 16:00 GMT (noon EST) after negotiations with two of the Big Three have made no progress since the strike began eight days ago.

UAW President Shawn Fain said during a live stream that no additional actions have been taken against Ford because that automaker has made concessions to the union and progress during negotiations this week.

The parts distribution facilities are in 20 states and across all nine of the UAW regions.

The strikes at three assembly plants that began eight days ago, which affects about 12% of North American production for the Big Three, will continue, Fain said.

Ramesh Iyer, director, engineering plastics at Chemical Data (CDI), said the latest action will not only impact the automakers, but also service departments at dealerships as they tend to keep only the most common parts in stock.

“This will become a bigger headache for consumers,” Iyer said.

Kevin Swift, ICIS senior economist for global chemicals, said estimates from Anderson Economic Group that economic losses over the first week of the strike exceeded $1bn including the $250m in lost wages for striking and laid-off workers are reasonable given the limited scope.

“If prolonged, it will add up,” Swift said.

The petrochemical industry is closely monitoring the situation because an extended strike would massively disrupt demand for polymers as a typical vehicle contains nearly $3,950 of chemistry including chemical products and chemical processing.

The UAW strike could slash monthly polymers demand from the Big Three by 26,000 tonnes for polypropylene (PP), 11,000 tonnes each for polyurethanes (PU) and nylon, and 5,000 tonnes each for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), based on H1 2023 volumes, according to an analysis of industry data obtained by ICIS.

For the US economy as a whole, a prolonged strike and its ripple effects would be a major blow, according to Swift.

Swift estimates that the impact could be about $2.5bn/day.

Virtually every component of a light vehicle, from the front bumper to the rear taillights, features some chemistry.

The latest data indicate that polymer use is about 437lb (198kg) per vehicle, he said.

Additional reporting by Al Greenwood, Joseph Chang and Stefan Baumgarten

Please also visit the ICIS automotive topic page

Thumbnail shows an automobile. Image by Ford.

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