GM auto worker strike detriment to businesses in Southwest Florida

Local auto shops and car dealers all want to know if there is an end in sight to the General Motors worker strike. It’s been months since employees of the auto manufacturer first paralyzed the company’s factories. The GM CEO recently joined the negotiating table, but there is still no word on a deal.

With the GM strike still in effect, we spoke to members of the auto industry in Southwest Florida about why it may take longer for locals to get their cars fixed.

“Parts availability is null and void almost, right now,” said Alan Smith, the general manager of Terry Wynter Auto Service Center in Fort Myers.

It was one month ago Tuesday United Automobile Workers labor union left GM factories and hit the picket lines demanding more pay, better health care and job security, which works say is the most important. The ripple effect of the 50-plant shutdown is starting to reach Southwest Florida.

Car owners of GM vehicle brands such as Cheverolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac may have to wait longer than usual to get parts for a repair.

“Three to five days on some parts,” Smith said. “Some parts a week to 10 days out. Some they’re on back order right now because there are none in the country.”

Smith told us the strike is hurting smaller shops like his. And that costs both his business and his customers money.

“Our customers are used to same-day service,” Smith said. “And we don’t get the parts out. We got cars sitting around.”

While routine maintenance is not affected, big-ticket items are getting harder to find.

“Anything that’s a special part for a specific vehicle, wiring harnesses, electrical components, transmission, internal parts, those are all a mess,” said Patrick Denson, the owner of Estero Bay Chevrolet. “Those are what we’re not getting.”

GM and the labor union met to negotiate Tuesday but have not reached a deal. The strike has cost GM an estimated $2 billion. Until both GM and its employees reach a new deal, service departments fear things will only get worse.

“We’d just kind of like that cloud off of us,” said. “And get it settled and get back to business as usual.”

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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