By on October 15, 2019

Now in its fifth week, the strike by UAW-affiliated workers that darkened General Motors plants across the continent and reportedly cost the company $2 billion may soon achieve results.

Late Monday night, numerous media outlets reported that local union leaders were being called to Detroit for a Thursday meeting. This morning, word arose that GM CEO Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss had taken a seat at the bargaining table.

As reported by CNBC, the union leaders are heading to the Motor City for an update on the ongoing contract negotiations. Given that the present labor action long ago garnered their seal of approval, the most likely reason for their attendance would be to greenlight a tentative agreement.

The meeting is made all the more significant by reports that GM’s top executives joined bargaining teams on Tuesday morning. A source claimed that, while a deal still hasn’t been reached, bargaining is in the “home stretch.”

Reuters corroborated the report, citing two sources who claim Barra and Reuss were indeed at the table. With sticking points like worker health care and temporary employees dragging the strike out longer than many would have expected, the pressure is on to deliver a contract both sides can agree on. On Monday, the UAW upped its strike pay.

Late last week, the union sent a counterproposal to GM, though there’s been little word on how well it was received. The proposal may have provided just enough in the way of concessions to get both sides into position for a tentative agreement.

Bank of America estimates the strike has erased $2 billion in profits for the automaker. In a note to investors, BoA analyst John Murphy wrote, “A prolonged strike could burn significant cash and bring GM to its knees, but investors likely will also react negatively if management is perceived to have caved into labor’s demands and GM’s long-term competitiveness is threatened.”

[Image: General Motors]

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47 Comments on “UAW-GM Strike Becomes an All-Hands-on-Deck Affair; Mary Barra Reportedly at the Table...”


  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    The stunt of Mary Barra being at the table failed; this was just some GM media jerk-off publicity stunt. Nobody respects Crazy Mary Barra that isn’t directly forced to work for her. Look at her Joan Crawford face. Look at her leather jackets and black nail polish; they show her true Waterford, Mi, Mott High School low-class life. Look at her undeserving trajectory inside GM. Sucking up the $22M per year, and leave GM worse off in the future. Good luck on 15k bolts sold extrapolated to the future earnings, and you can’t even keep Lordstown alive. DUH.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    I have a hard time seeing how GM could have lost $2 billion in profits by now. From what I read, their pickup inventory when the strike started was 90 days. I read that supply may be starting to get tight on certain models. And the Corvette is delayed, as we read. But I don’t see how 35 days of striking could have possibly cost them that much money. Is GM really even stressed at this point? I am not taking a side in this strike, but I am just trying to understand the reporting.

    https://www.autonews.com/manufacturing/strike-threatens-gm-pickup-sales

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Rough methodology: Annual Revenue * 35/365 * Gross Margin % = “Lost Profits”

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s one way of calculating it. Parts not made/shipped and loss of non-union production (Canada/Mexico) are other costs, along with dealer-losses for lack of parts, that will probably have to be made up by GM in various ways to keep the dealers solvent.

        There are probably raw materials contracts that have penalty clauses for interrupted shipments, as well as other supplier contracts that will require adjustments that will reduce the bottom line this year or next.

        Financial news sites can do the more complicated calculations, but sites like Reuters will probably use the thumbnail calulation for the ballpark cost of the strike.

        We should be mindful that it’s not just current sales/profits, but future sales/profits due to shutdown of production in North America that is being calculated. At some point, there’s going to be a shortage of product in the pipeline that will lead to lost sales that otherwise would have been made.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I don’t see how 35 days of striking could have possibly cost them that much money. ”

      A number of financial and investment firms, banks and underwriters have done the math for us.

      Plus, GM stock is down to where it was in 2009, according to NBR.

      Generally it is not a good thing when “people who know” make pronouncements like GM’s $2BILLION loss (so far).

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        “A number of financial and investment firms, banks and underwriters have done the math for us.”

        I guess my grade school math teachers made an impression on me: “Show your work.”

        “Plus, GM stock is down to where it was in 2009, according to NBR.”

        GM stock had a minor dip during the strike and is basically flat overall compared to where is was 5 weeks ago.

        To quote Adele:

        “Just ’cause I said it, it don’t mean that I meant it
        People say crazy things
        Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it
        Just ’cause you heard it”

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “Show your work.”

          I’m sure they did, to the people that mattered.

          But we, you and I, don’t matter. Hence we’ll never get to see the calculations of how they derived at those loss figures.

          Good sources of neutral reporting are the WSJ, Bloomberg, CNBC, NBR and probably a few others I don’t get to watch.

          If they report it, it’s usually good data.

  • avatar

    she is the problem, not the solution

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I assume she’s there to back up Mark Reuss, the only car guy in the GM top echelon. He’s possibly Barra’s successor, he having supplanted Dan Amman as President of GM in January.

      Barra and Amman were “the” team, before the board broke it up and elevated Reuss to Amman’s old job, demoting Amman to head of the Cruise self-driving car company.

      Reuss will probably do all the talking, and Barra will nod her head – she’s just there because of her title. I expect her days are numbered at GM. Akerson picked her, but the board will likely pick her successor and already has, from the look of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        Buickman/Lorenzo

        GM & The UAW are very close to reaching an agreement. By showing up to the talks Mary Barra and Mark Reid’s are giving it their seal of approval.

  • avatar

    Once Barra is gone dignity and pride can be returned to the company. Barra has made GM a miserable place to work. Her short term thinking and actions are infuriating, She is almost entirely to blame for this strike.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      akear, c’mon. GM hasn’t had much to be proud of in decades. Their behavior, financial performance, loss of market share, lack of leadership, poor marketing, reaming vendors, safety lapses, and on and on explain why GM has little to be proud of.

      GM is not a well run company. It hasn’t been well run since, what, the early 1960’s?

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      akear

      Before Mary Barra the GM CEO position was a revolving door. Work for a few months get your golden parachute and get out.

      She has made the hard decisions: Sold off money losing operations(to PSA, Isuzu, Vinfast, UzAuto) Shut down retail sails in the money pit of India, and killed off money losing models (Chevy Cruze)
      She has also given the company vision (no accidents, no congestion, no emissions)

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The front of that Silverado reminds me of Clark Griswald’s Family Truckster.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      They are hideous. I’m expecting a complete “refresh” next year, much like they had to do 4 years ago. I don’t know who they pick for their design clinics, but that person in charge of selection ought to be fired ASAP.

    • 0 avatar

      It has not got a lot of press of late, but GM styling under Barra has been disappointing. The Silverado, XT6, and now Corvette has got mixed reviews for their styling, which should be a concern since they are important models for GM. GM seems to under-going the corporate equivalent of a nervous breakdown. Everything is simultaneously declining at GM. Lets not even talk about GM’s very poor showing in last December’s Consumer Reports.

      This strike indicates there need to be a change at GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        akear

        the TTAC community is not representative of the real world.
        In Reality, The C8 Corvette is sold out for the 2020 model year; the Sierra/Silverado out sold the Fseries last quarter; GM’s large SUVs dominate the industry. crossover sales are growing fast and their are more crossovers on the way.

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    GM seems to have this “ho hum” culture and attitude the way they go about their business.

    GM can compete with the competition If it truly wants to since I’ve seen it with my own eyes in my 17 Impala which is a solidly built smooth running car, but GM at times I feel just doesn’t try hard enough to be the best or even cares to compete with foreign rivals. Back in day GM was king, and they used to build very reliable, wonderfully styled vehicles. But somewhere down the line all the cost cutting people had there way and ruined the companies reputation.

    GM tends to give up too easily on certain models without trying to make them better. For instance the Chevy Malibu really should have been improved upon every year like the Ford Fusion was, especially with its different trim levels like the top of the line Titanium trim level, the Malibu didn’t set itself apart far enough to justify moving up in trim levels like say a Fusion or any other midsize brand car did.

    The Impala should have been updated and possibly redesigned in 2018 since its current design language is from ways back in 2014. Not that the car looks outdated because it actually doesn’t, GM could have made changes to the interior, maybe an updated high quality touchscreen that is current with what the market has now. But no, GM simply doesn’t care enough to be the best or at least better than its competition.

    I honestly wouldn’t touch a new GM product after this strike is over just because of the simple fact that you will have a lot of angry and bitter UAW workers that will probably do a shoddy job putting together that Chevy Traverse. Plus with the massive financial losses GM is occurring, you know that they will HAVE to cost cut somewhere and those cuts will most likely be made in its cars and trucks.

    No bueno.

  • avatar

    Americans fighting Americans until the bitter end. Nothing new about that. No one is going to bail out GM second time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Oldschool–Agree I am with you. The Impala and LaCrosse were truly the best GM offerings. The Malibu could have become a much better and more competitive car and since it will be one of the survivors more effort needs to be put into it to improving the interior, touch screen, and a few other things that don’t require a total redesign. Having driven late model Impalas and LaCrosses gave me a more favorable view of both products which previously I didn’t have but now the LaCrosse is dead and the Impala is soon to be dead. GM has been been wasting any remaining good reputation it has. Ugly designs, cheapening of interiors, and bad management. These are harmful to GM and will lead to GM losing more market share and another bankruptcy. Also agree that angry and bitter workers are not a good formula for making quality vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I have been reading the strike may save those cars. The truth is GM cars are much better than their trucks and SUVs. GM trucks are cheaply built and have cheap plastic interiors.

      They stink…..

      What a disgrace.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Inside Looking Out–My fear is that we will bailout GM again. Might be better to let GM be taken over by another manufacturer or split up. My fear is that it will be China that eventually owns GM.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “My fear is that we will bailout GM again.”

      I would be pleasantly surprised if We, The People, did not have to bailout GM again at some point in the future.

      The UAW is clearly trying to bleed their employers ’til death does them part because where the transplants have a labor cost of ~$50/hr, the UAW plants have a labor cost of more than $64/hr, and soon to be much more.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “We” can live without GM at this point. We could have lived without GM back then too, but the mentality (politics/corruption/propaganda aside) is that GM’s couple million sales a year would evaporate… Yeah for them, but the other brands would quickly pick up the slack, pickup GM employees, vacant dealer property, etc, especially FCA and Ford.

        No big loss. GM suppliers would have to adjust to different parts (brands), and most of those are in China and Mexico anyway.

        • 0 avatar

          I am not sure that FCA will survive either. May be RAM and Jeep only.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Fiatsler will survive. The UAW picked GM because it was a soft target because of its size and past bankrupture.

            Once agreed to by GM UAW members, a very similar, maybe even identical, agreement will be tossed at Ford and Fiatsler.

            If GM workers sign on, so will the UAW people at Ford and Fiatsler.

            Sure thing.

  • avatar

    What a disgrace!

    What else can now be said. I just hope the workers are not fooled into closing any more plants.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Isn’t that the core issue? The industry has to tack into the wind, and the wind is BEVs.

      It takes a totally different kind of assembly worker to make EVs.

      With more discerning buyers choosing vehicles made by non-union plants or plants outside of the US, the market share of union plants is diminishing.

      • 0 avatar

        GM only sells 15,000 bolts a year making along with the Fiat 500 the worst-selling compact in North America. This past month two major EV companies have shut down. The Dyson electric car bit the dust a week ago. However, the biggest surprise is the bankruptcy of Faraday.
        It seems only the socially conscious rich buy electric cars, and that is who is currently buying Tesla vehicles. Even the Germans are having problems selling electric vehicles.

        If Barra and GM management don’t come to their senses this strike will go beyond thanksgiving.

        One by one electric car company’s are falling by the wayside.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    In the future there could be more robotics used in the assembly of EVs. Will be interesting to see what happens to both GM and Ford in the next 5 to 10 years. My feeling is GM could become a Chinese corporation and if that happened there would be little or no US plants. Maybe to the horror and disbelief of Ford loyalists GM and Ford could merge with Ford making the trucks and GM making the crossovers. Maybe PSA will buy GM if the Government bails GM out again. Stranger things have happened. Unless GM changes they will continue to lose truck sales which is where their growth has been. GM really screwed the pooch on the new Silverado and Sierra and Ram seems to be the one to beat.

    • 0 avatar
      Oldschool

      @ Jeff S, seriously, the new Silverado is absolutely one of the ugliest designs I have ever seen next to Chevy’s CUV’s. Plain ugly and boring.

      The horrible marketing GM has at the current moment doesn’t help matters either. Also, they have this “Whatever” attitude when it comes to marketing that doesn’t stir any emotions or engages the audience especially with their lackluster TV commercials which are the worst in the biz.

      Ram is killing it with their design/styling and high end interior. But as we all know, Dodge/Chrysler reliability isn’t good at all. But you can’t go wrong with a solid V8 over a puny 4 cylinder turbo that’s in a Silverado. I mean talk about a compromise! I don’t care how much power that little thing puts out, it will eventually have problems much quicker than any big V8 engine ever would. Just the fact that GM decided to offer a 4 banger in such a large truck was just stupid.

      Points that GM needs improvement on.

      1. Better marketing, with being worst in the business hands down.

      2. Better styled vehicles. Not enough aggressive designs, their vehicles all mostly look cheap and bland on the outside, with their interiors sharing similar traits.

      3. Focusing on better engineering and unique in house technologies that can set itself apart from everyone else.

      4. Make safety features such as blind spot warning, lane assist, etc..standard on the majority of its vehicles.

      5. Quality is a hit and a miss because GM can build and design an amazing car or truck, but then build a really crappy one. They need to be consistent with their quality throughout different makes and models.
      If Toyota and Honda can do it, why can’t GM?

      6. Catching on quickly to a changing industry . Something that GM used to be well know for. Being the most progressive automaker back in the 50’s and 60’s as a leader, Sadly they have become followers. I mean look how high end and luxurious the Hyundai Palisade looks? Do you think GM will even attempt to build a crossover that is of that caliber? For being just a Hyundai it could pass for a Genesis. Why would anyone even consider a Traverse when the Palisades destroys it every possible way. This the problem GM has at the moment.

      7. No excitement for anything besides the new Corvette.

      8. Should return to RWD architecture like the 2020 Ford Explore. GM is best building RWD vehicles.

      9. Stop discontinuing so many models, just lower production on them. They will regret not having better options for customers once the SUV and CUV craze winds down as all of those people will just head over to the import brands.

      10. Better dealership experience. Especially from Cadillac. You look at GM or even most domestic automakers dealerships in the U.S. and many are very old and falling apart. This leads to a bad perception among potential buyers. It’s like why would you step into a dilapidated Chevy dealer with a guy name “Bubba” welcoming you, when a nicer, newer more accommodating higher end Toyota and Lexus dealer is right across the street? Dealership experience can make or break a sale for sure. And GM really needs to help dealership owners remodel their stores and revamp the way import brands have done. Out here in CA there’s a noticeable difference between them that is why.

  • avatar
    TS020

    I always laugh at TTAC’s go-to photo in any bad news article about GM; that God-awful Silverado front end sums up every GM bad news article to a tee.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Oldschool–Agree with every point you made. The first place to start is clean house. Get rid of Barra and most of Management. Bring in a CEO that actually likes cars and has a passion for all types of vehicles. Don’t drop anymore cars–take what you have and improve the quality. As you stated above improve the dealer experience and definitely improve the service.

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