Production on Navistar’s main line in Springfield shut down again

Navistar shut down the main line at its Springfield plant again this week as the company continues to face a shortage of parts due to the General Motors strike.

But, General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract deal Wednesday that could end the strike. However, it is unclear how long it will take for Navistar’s Springfield plant to go back to its normal production schedule, said local union president Chris Blizard.

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“For those on strike, as part of the process, the tentative agreement will have to be taken to the membership for a vote. It is unclear how long that process will take,” Blizard said. His union only represents workers at Navistar’s Springfield plant and they are not taking part in the strike.

However, the decision to halt production at Navistar’s Springfield plant affected approximately 1,400 assembly production workers represented by UAW Local 402, Blizard told the News-Sun. Navistar’s main line in Springfield builds medium-duty trucks including GM models and its line two makes cutaway GM vans.

Parts for those vehicles started to become scarce shortly after the strike started on Sept. 15, the News-Sun reported. At the end of the first week of the strike, Navistar President and CEO Troy Clarke told investors during a conference call that his company would idle production of commercial trucks for GM. He also told investors that the company was running out of engines and cabs for those trucks.

The company halted production on Sept. 23 on both its lines in Springfield.

However, Navistar resumed production Oct. 7 on its main line in Springfield focusing on non-GM trucks. Blizard said the company only built a limited number of trucks on that line that week. The move brought back roughly two-thirds of assembly production workers that had been temporarily out of work.

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When those workers will be called back to the plant depends on how quickly suppliers affected by the GM strike can churn out parts for companies such as Navistar once the strike officially ends, Blizard said.

“It could be a week or could be much longer. We don’t know at this point,” Blizard added.

Area dealerships and automotive shops are also feeling the effects of the strike.

Scott Hennigan, who co-owns Maine’s Collision Repair & Body Shop in Springfield, said most area dealerships that are affiliated with GM, and provide parts to his shop, are running out of inventory. That shortage has left businesses like Hennigan’s unable to repair vehicles that require GM parts.

Dealerships that talked to the Springfield News-Sun said the parts shortage has mainly affected the service part of their operations. Andy Stathopoulos, a service manager for Springfield Buick GMC Cadillac, said it just depends on what parts they need. The more specialized the part, the harder it can be to find.

By the numbers

46K: UAW members on strike against GM

$1.13B: GM profits loss since strike

$624M: Lost wages by GM workers

The Springfield News-Sun has closely covered the impact of the GM strike on Clark and Champaign counties, as it has created a shortage in parts for GM vehicles and other brands. Past coverage includes a dip in production for Navistar’s Springfield plant that builds vehicles for GM on both of its production lines.

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