DETROIT - If Canadian Auto Workers go on strike against Detroit's three automakers next week, the impact will be felt quickly in the U.S.
Negotiations between the CAW and Chrysler, General Motors and Ford have hit a rough patch with less than a week to go before contracts expire Monday night. The companies are trying to cut costs, and the union is refusing their demands for concessions. Wednesday, the union told workers to prepare for a strike and said negotiations haven't been going well.
GM, Chrysler and Ford manufacture popular models at Canadian plants that would soon be in short supply. CAW workers also make key engine parts and other components for U.S.-built cars.
A strike would be felt in some U.S. factories in a week or less, said Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive, an industry consulting firm that tracks and forecasts auto production. Dealers could quickly run short of some models, largely because they haven't built up stocks due to higher demand for cars and trucks in the U.S., Robinet said.
"There's not a lot of extra inventory out there," he said. "There hasn't been a lot of opportunity to build strike banks."
In Canada, GM makes the Chevrolet Camaro, Impala and Equinox, along with the Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS and GMC Terrain. Chrysler makes minivans and the Dodge Challenger and Charger, Chrysler 300 and Ram Cargo Van in Canada. The Ford Edge and Flex and the Lincoln MKX and MKT are made near Toronto. Parts for those vehicles are stamped in the plant in the Town of Hamburg.
Canada has lost the currency and health care cost advantages it once had over the U.S., and U.S. autoworkers have made concessions that Canadian workers haven't.