* The strike: On March 4, 2,700 workers struck two factories in Dayton, Ohio, that make brake parts for 90% of the vehicles manufactured by General Motors Corp. in North America. Shortages of those parts ultimately closed 26 of GM's 28 operable assembly plants in North America and trimmed production at 90 parts plants, idling 177,375 GM employees and tens of thousands more at other companies.
* The argument: Workers objected to GM's plan to buy some brake systems from the German firm Robert Bosch at a cost of 128 jobs in Dayton, symbolizing GM's practice of outsourcing work to companies that can make parts more cheaply than it can in-house.
* The settlement: Details will not be disclosed until a ratification vote by workers today, but union officials said it addressed only the local dispute. That would leave outsourcing on the table as a central issue when the UAW negotiates new three-year national agreements with GM, Ford and Chrysler this summer.
* The lesson: Today's manufacturing companies are exceptionally vulnerable to work actions because their greater efficiency leaves them with virtually no inventory on hand. Thus a strike at a single factory can quickly paralyze production elsewhere. But the cost savings of such efficiency far outweigh the penalties.