WisBusiness: Layoffs spread in Janesville from GM strike

By Brian E. Clark

Lear Corp., which makes automotive interiors, has laid off its 780-hourly workers at its Janesville plant because of the UAW strike against GM, according to Lear spokesman Mel Stevens.

The UAW struck GM yesterday, idling more than 2,700 union members at the Janesville GM plant.

In addition, LSI – a transportation company that contracts with GM – has laid off another 300 workers in Janesville as the strike sends ripples throughout the region.

The work stoppage is also affecting many other companies because GM has contracts with 380 Wisconsin firms.

Negotiations between GM and the UAW continued today in Detroit and no progress was reported.

Analysts said if the strike continues longer than two weeks, it could cost the corporation billions and slow the momentum the company was building with some of its new models.

The last work stoppage at the Janesville GM plant was in 1996 and lasted for only seven days.

Analysts said a strike of less than 14 days wouldn’t hurt GM’s cash position and could improve its inventory situation, Lehman Brothers analyst Brian Johnson said Monday in a note to investors.

But a longer strike would be harmful, causing GM to burn up $8.1 billion in the first month and $7.2 billion in the second month, assuming the company can’t produce vehicles in Mexico or Canada, Johnson wrote.

Initially, the strike wouldn’t have much impact on consumers because GM has so much inventory, the analysts say.

The company had just under 950,000 vehicles in stock at the end of August, about 35,000 less than at the same time last year.