An expanded strike by autoworkers could impact car buying and vehicle repairs for consumers — depending on how long it lasts.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) first went on strike Sept. 15 against three large domestic automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (which owns Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram). But the targeted walkouts it staged at production facilities at the start of this action only impacted a few popular models, and dealers reported having plenty in stock.
On Sept. 22, the UAW expanded the strike by organizing walkouts at more than three dozen additional sites, including those that store and distribute parts for a broad range of cars and trucks.
The union argues that autoworkers provided concessions to the Big Three automakers during the global economic downturn 15 years ago, allowing those companies to survive bankruptcy and return to profitability. Now that companies are seeing record profits, workers deserve to share in the windfall, the UAW says.
It’s unclear how long the strike might last.
Should a strike continue for weeks or months more, there could be direct impacts on auto buyers and owners. Strikes “are intended to cause some economic discomfort,” says Daniel Clark, a labor historian at Oakland University, near Detroit.
Could the cost of new cars rise?
Car buyers saw the effect of a disruption of the supply chain during the pandemic. It was hard to get key parts for new cars, which affected the automakers’ ability to build and supply vehicles to the buying public.
“As we saw during the pandemic, when you have supply issues, prices go up,” says Ed Kim, president and chief analyst of AutoPacific, an automotive research and consulting firm.