More than 49,000 United Auto Workers went on strike against General Motors on Monday — bringing more than 50 factories and warehouses to a standstill.
It’s the union’s first walkout in more than a decade, and its effects could reverberate beyond the country’s border to Canada and Mexico.
Avery Shenfeld, the chief economist of CIBC Capital Markets, explained to Global News that any effects on Canada largely depend on how long the strike lasts.
“Typically, you would make up for lost time by having additional shifts and then producing as many cars as you would otherwise,” Shenfeld said.
“It’s a question of does it last long enough that you stop producing certain models and buyers look elsewhere for their vehicle.”
While it’s difficult to know the effects this particular strike will have, Shenfeld added that production of vehicles is closely enough related between Canada and the U.S. that the effects could potentially be felt quite soon.
“Historically, because of just-in-time inventory processes that are now quite common, it’s only a matter of days before they’re missing a supply of a critical part there or there.”
WATCH: GM union workers to go on strike
The previous strike by UAW members against GM in 2007 lasted only 17 hours and did not have a major impact on production.
Prior to that, a 54-day strike at two major parts plants in Flint, Mich., eventually shut down much of GM’s North American operations.
In an email statement to Global News, General Motors Canada said it is monitoring the situation.
“GM Canada’s plants are part of an integrated NA manufacturing supply chain,” the statement read. “We will continue to monitor the situation closely for any impact to our Canadian operations. We do not comment on negotiations.”
Shenfeld noted that workers in Canada are likely not going to be happy at the potential to be “sidelined” by a U.S. strike.
Unifor, the union that represents Canadian GM workers, stood by its American counterparts in a statement Sunday
“Unifor supports the United Auto Workers (UAW) in negotiations for a fair contract settlement with General Motors (GM),” the statement read.
It noted that collective agreements between Unifor and GM will begin next year.
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Meanwhile, in a letter released Monday, UAW vice-president Terry Dittes wrote that there are many important items left in the talks, including wage increases, pay for new hires, job security, profit sharing and treatment of temporary workers.
“We are willing to meet as frequently, and for as long as it takes, to reach an agreement that treats our members fairly,” Dittes wrote.
GM said Sunday it offered pay raises and US$7 billion worth of U.S. factory investments resulting in 5,400 new positions, a minority of which would be filled by existing employees.
The company also said it offered higher profit sharing, “nationally leading” health benefits and an $8,000 payment to each worker upon ratification.
— With files from The Associated Press