GM, Stellantis Scramble to Keep Repair Parts Flowing Amid UAW Strike

The United Auto Workers’ strike is now nearly two weeks long.
The United Auto Workers’ strike is now nearly two weeks long.


Stellantis lined up a nonunion warehouse ahead of walkouts to distribute parts to dealerships, a company document shows.

General Motors and Chrysler-parent Stellantis have devised plans for white-collar workers to staff parts-distribution centers as they aim to blunt the fallout from the United Auto Workers’ walkout.

Ahead of the strike, Stellantis additionally leased a nonunion warehouse and banked 30 days of inventory for 2,500 different types of parts, which are used for customer maintenance and repairs at dealerships, according to a document seen by The Wall Street Journal.

Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Ram and other brands, previously marshaled some salaried employees to work at the parts facilities if a strike occurred, according to the document and people familiar with the matter.

It is unclear whether Stellantis is using the warehouse or has deployed salaried staff to help move parts, now that the facilities are on strike.

A Stellantis spokesman declined to comment on plans to use a warehouse or salaried workers to process parts, adding the company is disappointed the union “chose to disrespect our customers" by striking the parts hubs, and that it has contingency plans to meet customer demands.

GM also has made plans to use white-collar workers to handle parts shipments, people familiar with the plans said. The company used the same strategy during a 40-day strike in 2019 to keep components flowing to dealerships.

“We have contingency plans for various scenarios," a GM spokesman said. “We are evaluating if and when to enact those plans."

The strike, now nearly two weeks long, has halted production at three assembly plants—one each at GM, Stellantis and Ford Motor. The UAW last week also went on strike at 38 parts-distribution centers owned by GM and Stellantis. The union spared Ford from more walkouts, saying it was making progress in contract talks with the automaker.

Ford has trained white-collar staff to fill in at parts depots, a spokeswoman confirmed. So far, though, its distribution centers continue to operate.

So far, the consumer impact of the strike has been minimal. The three plants on strike—which make Jeep SUVs, midsize Chevrolet pickup trucks, Ford Bronco SUVs and other models—account for only about 10% of the companies’ North American output. And each automaker had several weeks worth of inventory on dealership lots or in transit when work was halted.

More than 18,000 of the companies’ 146,000 factory workers remain on strike as contract talks continue. UAW President Shawn Fain has said the union will strike more facilities if talks don’t progress.

The UAW’s walkout at parts facilities across 20 states quickly broadened the strike’s impact to include thousands of dealerships, as well as consumers. The distribution facilities play a crucial role in getting replacement components out for vehicles that need to be fixed.

“These distribution centers are really a key function to the supply chain," said Jeff Schuster, an analyst at industry research-firm GlobalData.

Choking off the flow of routine maintenance parts such as spark plugs and oil filters, as well as less-common components used in repair work, can quickly disrupt dealers’ service departments, causing longer customer waits and appointment cancellations.

“Dealers who didn’t prepare for this are probably already starting to feel the pinch on their parts availability," said Brad Sowers, a Missouri dealer who sells GM and Stellantis brands. Most dealerships typically get parts shipments daily, on a just-in-time basis.

Sowers said he began buying extra parts from the automakers “like crazy" five months ago in anticipation of a strike, storing the excess at an off-site facility that normally serves as a used-car reconditioning center. Sowers, whose dealerships sell Chevrolet, Jeep and other brands, figures he has enough to get through two months if the strike drags on.

Jeff Schneider, general manager at Michigan-based Szott Automotive Group, which sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram models, said his company also beefed up its parts supply before the strike. It has a large fleet of rental vehicles for customers who need urgent repairs. Those with non-safety issues, however, may have to wait.

“You work very hard to establish a loyal customer base, and this is going to make people unhappy," said Schneider, who also sells Toyota and Ford models. “It might make people look at a different brand next time."

Beyond the impact on dealership parts, the UAW’s walkout has spilled over to nonstriking plants and the supply base, too. Suppliers have said more than 3,000 workers will be or could be laid off as a result of the strike, according to disclosures from the companies.

Last week, GM idled a Kansas plant that relied on work from the company’s other facility targeted by the UAW, resulting in 2,000 temporary layoffs. Stellantis also temporarily laid off 68 workers at a machining plant affected by the UAW’s strike at a Jeep factory in Toledo, Ohio, and said an additional 300 workers could be affected at a facility in Kokomo, Ind.

Dealers and suppliers in recent months had been recovering from supply chain breakdowns that led to factory disruptions and vehicle shortages. Some worry the strike could be a setback.

“During the pandemic, we had people that sat for months without parts," said Stephen Wade, a Utah-based dealer who sells GM and Stellantis brands. “I’m anticipating for it to get real difficult here if this thing doesn’t break."

Write to Ryan Felton at and Mike Colias at

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