UAW strike ‘starting to rear its ugly head’ in East Tennessee

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ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) – Tuesday marks one month since nearly 50,000 General Motors workers went on strike.

A counteroffer was made by United Auto Workers (UAW) last Friday to GM leaders. GM has argued their offer to UAW workers “prioritizes employees, communities and builds a stronger future for all.”

Leaders of the United Auto Workers Union recently increased the weekly compensation for the workers by $25, bringing their weekly total to $275.

As the strike continues to our north, the ability to track down genuine General Motors parts is becoming increasingly difficult for local dealerships.

“Around the nation, dealers are running low on their own supplies. So, in the coming weeks, we worry some parts will be hard to get,” Charles West, owner of West Chevrolet, said Monday.

As we reported about the potential impact of the strike, local body shops count on local dealerships, like West Chevrolet, for genuine General Motors parts. Local dealerships get their inventory from the GM plants or GM distribution centers.

Since the strike began, dealerships around the country have turned to each other for out of stock parts.

There’s no shortage of cars or trucks at West Chevrolet. But, while inventory is good, inventory on repair parts is a daily struggle for his service team.

Common maintenance items such as hoses, belts, and oil filters haven’t been difficult to order, repair parts such as panels, West said, have been harder to track down.

“Anyone with a collision accident will have trouble finding parts, unless they’re already at the dealership,” he added. Up until this point, he explained, it’s been pretty easy finding the parts they needed. “This week, the strike is starting to rear its ugly head.”

Fortunately, he said, they haven’t had to turn anyone away. Some customers have opted to wait for the strike to end to receive a minor repair.

In some cases, insurers have agreed to pay for a non-genuine GM part, if the driver is unable to wait it out. And in most cases, they’ve been able to track down the parts needed at other dealerships in the region and as far as Ohio.

“I hope they come to an agreement, not just for our sake and local business, but also there’s a lot of people involved that work in these factories, and a lot of businesses around the factories. So, for their sake, I hope they resolve it.”

We followed up with Kelly Long, a manager at King Collision, about the strike.

Since we last spoke to her about its potential impact more than three weeks ago, she said they’re already seeing some.

Long said they’ve seen a part, that’s normally taken a day or two to arrive, take a couple weeks to get to their repair shop. She also told us Monday two major insurance companies have directed them to order the parts before taking the car in for any service.

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