Signs of discord between General Motors and the United Auto Workers union were evident Monday near the company’s distribution facility at 8752 Jacquemin Dr. in West Chester Twp.
Nearly a dozen employees stood near and under a tent erected just off the roadway, some holding “UAW On Strike” signs and others wearing those signs around their necks.
They are among 49,200 UAW members who went on strike from GM facilities earlier that day after the company and union failed to reach an agreement on a new four-year contract.
The employees declined to provide comment on the strike. GM on its website lists 73 hourly and 31 salaries employees at the site.
Talks between the union and GM broke off Sunday but resumed at 10 a.m. Monday. GM said it has made substantial offers, but union officials say they’re far apart on wages, health care, use of temporary workers and other major items.
The union represents workers at 33 manufacturing sites and 22 parts warehouses nationwide.
GM first invested in West Chester in 2000 when the company constructed the nearly 400,000-square-foot building on Jacquemin Drive.
In 2008, General Motors leased space at 9287 Meridian Way in West Chester to conduct a different aspect of their operations. Last fall, employees of that location learned that the location would shut down this month, then in March were told it would close in May.
That closure was not caused by the planned closure of the company’s Lordstown facility, but both are part of a company-wide downsizing announced by the company.
More than 130 West Chester GM workers elected to take GM jobs in Flint, Mich., while another 100-plus opted to move on in their careers, a company official told this news outlet at the time.
GM lists its economic impact on the state in two categories: state wages numbering more than $715 million and total tax withheld at $25 million.
The strike raised questions about GM facilities across the region. It won’t disrupt GM’s plans for a new Brookville plant, a company spokesman said Monday.
GM hopes to build a new $175 million plant on a farm in Brookville, a small city in northwestern Montgomery County less than 40 miles north of GM’s West Chester facility.
A GM spokesman said the proposed plant site does not have a street address, but he said the UAW strike will not disrupt the automaker’s plans for the new facility, which would supply machined engine heads and blocks to the DMAX truck engine plant in Moraine.
Demand for heavy-duty diesel engines is strong, especially with plans for new trucks to be assembled in a Flint, Mich. plant, said Dan Flores, a spokesman for the automaker. The UAW strike, which began at midnight Saturday evening, will not disrupt that, he said.
“This project is being driven by the fact that market demand for the Duramax diesel engine is very strong,” Flores said. “And with our plans to increase pickup truck production at our Flint truck plant in Flint, Mich., it’s looks very likely that we need more diesel engines. This is a market-driven project.”
Asked about the project’s prospects if a strike is prolonged, Flores said he could not speculate.
GM has not yet purchased the Brookville property, Flores said.
The new plant would have a little over 100 employees, with about 18 transfers from the DMAX plant, which would continue to operate in Moraine. That plant has about 800 workers. Dayton city officials have indicated that they believe the facility would have the potential to grow to 600 or 700 employees.
A prolonged strike could impact GM supplier plants, industry observers have said. Cox Automotive estimates that GM’s inventory of trucks and SUVs in total stands at about 80 days. Vehicles in short supply are the high-profit-margin Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, at 57 and 58 days supply, respectively, compared with 64 days for the industry segment, Cox said.
Cox Automotive is part of Cox Enterprises, which also owns Cox Media Group, of which the Journal-News is a part.
The Associated Press and Staff Writer Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this story.
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