A strike by 3,200 workers at two General Motors Corp. brake factories in Dayton, Ohio, rippled through suppliers' ranks last week, causing closings and reduced work hours at some plastic parts and components facilities. The United Auto Workers Union local in Dayton launched its strike March 6 to protest GM's plans to buy more brake components and assemblies from nonunion companies rather than hire new employees.
By March 14, GM ran out of brakes for most of its car and light truck models, and had closed 22 of its 29 assembly plants and 44 parts factories, idling 84,000 workers.
Plastics parts and component suppliers said last week the strike is affecting them in varying degrees, depending on the amount of work their companies perform for GM.
Lear Corp. of Southfield, Mich., closed eight of its just-in-time seating plants that are located near GM assembly plants. Those seating plants produce and deliver complete seating components within three hours of getting orders from the automaker's assembly facilities.
Nick Feles, spokesman for Lear, said in a March 14 telephone interview his company's just-in-time facilities were affected quickly and intensely by the GM plant closures. He could not say how many workers were affected by the closings.
Meanwhile, Ray Steinly, general manager of Lear Corp.'s Strasbourg, Va., division, said his plant was not affected.
Steinly's facility, which supplies injection molded interior components to the automotive industry, has few sales to GM.
``Most of the products we sell to GM go to its Delphi Division, and they haven't been affected yet. We haven't seen a disruption in our shipping pattern,'' Steinly said in a March 14 interview by telephone from his office in Strasbourg.
The Automotive Systems Group of Johnson Controls Inc. of Plymouth, Mich., closed five of its just-in-time seating plants that also supply seats to GM assembly plants, Jeff Steiner, company spokesman said March 14. Johnson Controls has 90 plants around the world that supply seats and seating components to automakers, Steiner said.
United Technologies Automo-tive Inc., one of the largest automotive plastics and components suppliers, was eying the strike warily.
As of March 13, United Technologies Automotive had not laid off workers nor closed facilities, but it had reduced weekly work hours for some employees, according to Michael Scholl, spokesman for the company. Scholl spoke March 14 interview by telephone from his company's office in Dearborn, Mich.
Scholl said 17 of United Technologies Automotive's 22 U.S. production facilities supply products to GM.
However, Scholl noted, GM accounts for as little as 2 percent to as much as 80 percent of those plants' sales, so United Technol-ogies Automotive expects them to be affected differently by the strike.
``We hate to see this strike go on. But, if it does, our plants with a greater amount of work for GM will be more affected. If GM can't receive our components, we may be forced to lay our people off,'' Scholl said.
Approximately 15 percent of the company's $510 million in annual sales are to GM, Scholl added.
A spokesman for injection molder Lacks Enterprises Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., said his company stopped shipping components to two GM assembly plants March 8, and to a third GM plant early last week.
``We have other work, and we are shifting our emphasis to get work done for Ford and Chrysler products,'' said Marty Fahey, Lacks' spokesman.
By March 14, Fahey said the effect of the strike on his company had been minimal.
However, Fahey added, by March 18 Lacks would consider cutting back one shift at one of its 11 U.S. manufacturing facilities if the strike continued.
John Prepolec, vice president for marketing for LDM Technol-ogies of Troy, Mich., said LDM laid off 200 employees at its Byesville, Ohio, injection molding plant, which supplies bumper fascias and interior parts to GM. The near closure of that plant is significant for LDM, Prepolec said, but, he added that he does not expect his company's other facilities to be affected significantly by the strike. LDM reports $350 million in injection molding sales to the automotive industry from six plants.