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GM Idles 7 Plants in Wake of American Axle Strike

General Motorssaid Tuesday it will close a seventh facility next week as the impact from a strike against American Axle & Manufacturing continues to widen for the No. 1 U.S. automaker.

General Motors
AP
General Motors

A GM spokesman said in a recorded call that the company's Toledo, Ohio, transmission plant expects to close Monday, March 10 due to the impact of the strike by the United Auto Workers union. The sixth plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, was already scheduled to shut down mid-morning on Tuesday.

An American Axle spokeswoman said the union and the supplier are not currently negotiating.

"We're ready to talk when they're ready to come back to the table," Renee Rogers said.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said on Tuesday at the Geneva auto show that he was hopeful American Axle and the union could resolve a contract dispute that led to the strike.

He said GM has been able to continue some production on the vehicles that have parts supplied by American Axle and inventories still remain a little high on the vehicles.

Analysts have said a short work stoppage could allow GM to run down inventories of trucks and sport utility vehicles, but have cautioned that a longer disruption could be costly.

The slump in U.S. auto sales and GM's own showroom traffic in recent months takes some of the pressure off the automaker as more of its plants idle, analysts have said.

Sales at GM tumbled 16 percent in February after adjusting for the number of sales days, according to data released on Monday. Sales were down 20 percent for GM's trucks, the area of its lineup where exposure to American Axle is highest.

On Monday, a senior GM sales executive said the automaker had enough inventory of full-size pickup trucks for two to three months despite the production shutdown. "We have enough for 60 (to) 90 days easy," GM's head of North American sales, Mark LaNeve, said on a conference call.

Detroit-based American Axle was spun off from GM in 1994.

It has said it needs the UAW to accept steep concessions on wages and benefits in order to keep production in the United States.

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