The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors won’t disrupt GM’s plans for a new Brookville plant and would have to go on for weeks before having an impact on local suppliers, a spokesman for GM and analysts said Monday.
GM hopes to build a new $175 million plant on a farm in Brookville. The GM spokesman said the UAW strike will not stop 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.
“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.
“If the project gets approved, we want to hit the ground running,” he added.
Talks with the UAW resumed at 10 a.m. Monday. Nearly 50,000 UAW members struck the company this weekend, including about 73 union members at a GM distribution facility in Butler County’s West Chester Twp.
Nearly a dozen employees stood near and under a tent erected just off the the GM facility at 8752 Jacquemin Dr. in West Chester Twp., some holding “UAW On Strike” signs and others wearing those signs around their necks.
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.
The DMAX plant is represented by another union, the IUE-CWA. A message was left Monday with a representative of that union.
“While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality health care, and job security, GM refuses to put hard-working Americans ahead of their record profits of $35 billion in North America over the last three years,” UAW Vice President Tony Dittes said in a statement. “We are united in our efforts to get an agreement our members and their families deserve.”
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.
The potential new GM facility in Brookville would not build complete new diesel engines, Flores said. Instead, workers there would machine engine blocks and heads to supply the DMAX plant in Moraine, which builds finished engines.
“If we do go forward with that project, it would be for the machining of blocks and heads, and those parts would be sent over to DMAX for more engines. That’s ultimately how we get more engine production,” Flores said.
There is machining happening now at DMAX, but that plant is at maximum capacity, he also said.
Angelia Erbaugh, president of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association, welcomed GM’s announcement.
“It’s wonderful news, for Dayton, for the region, for the economy,” Erbaugh said. “And it will be interesting to look into the future to see how that might affect the rest of the manufacturing industry (in Dayton). Because so much of our manufacturing is contract manufacturing. That very well could have a very positive impact on (smaller business) manufacturing.”
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.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in regular contact with our customer,” said Mike Alzamora, a spokesman for Tenneco, which has an auto parts plant in Kettering.
Cox Automotive is part of Cox Enterprises, which also owns Cox Media Group, of which the Dayton Daily News is a part.
Staff Writer Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this story.
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