DETROIT — General Motors Corp. indefinitely furloughed 16,700 workers in three states starting today and said it may have to shut down all of its North American assembly operations because of a strike at a parts plant in Indiana.
Talks to end the strike at the Delco Electronics plant in Kokomo resumed today.
The 7,700 Delco workers have been on strike since Monday. Delco is a GM subsidiary that makes electronic parts such as radios, heat sensors and on-board computer components.
"If the strike goes, well, not even too much longer, we will be completely shut down," GM Chairman Roger B. Smith said late Wednesday.
If the strike continues until Monday, the nation's No. 1 auto maker may have to close all but one of its 35 assembly plants in North America, the Detroit News reported today. The newspaper, quoting unidentified sources, identified the factory as the Chevette plant in Lakewood, Ga.
The lack of some Delco Electronics parts forced some GM assembly lines to shut down and lay off workers.
GM ordered indefinite layoffs starting today for 3,700 workers at its Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac plant in Detroit, 6,000 at a pair of downtown Detroit Cadillac body and assembly plants, 6,000 at a Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac plant in Wentzville, Mo., and about 1,000 at a Chevrolet Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky.
Managers at the GM plant in Van Nuys, who had said the plant might be shut down this week, now say they expect to have enough parts to continue operations through Friday.
"We know we can last through the end of this week because of freight moving this way, unless something unexpected comes up," said Richard Conrad, director of materials management at the San Fernando Valley plant.
The Delco parts are shipped to auto assembly plants on a "just-in-time" basis as they are ordered, so there was little or no inventory when the strike began, company officials said.
The dispute between Delco and United Auto Workers Local 292 revolves around subcontracting of some jobs and transfer of radio production to Mexico.