How Does the United Auto Workers Union Strike Affect Shoppers?


The United Auto Workers union has reached tentative agreements with all Detroit Three automakers as of today, with GM being the final automaker to do so, 46 days after the strike first began Sept. 15.

The GM deal was reached after the UAW increased the pressure by adding the Spring Hill, Tenn., plant to its strike action Oct. 28 (the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac Lyriq, XT5 and XT6 are assembled at the Spring Hill Manufacturing plant). This compounded an already tense situation for GM as Stellantis and the UAW announced Oct. 28 that they had reached a tentative agreement that included a 25% raise of workers, reopening the idled Belvidere, Ill., plant for an all-new mid-size pickup truck and $19 billion in U.S. investments.

Ford was the first of the Detroit Three to come to a tentative agreement with the UAW on Oct. 25, potentially ending the strike at that automaker and sending nearly 16,600 employees back to work at three Ford assembly plants. The UAW said the agreement was reached after “Ford knew what was coming next”; the union had already shut down Ford’s most profitable assembly plant, as well as the most profitable plants at GM and Stellantis.

The three contracts must be ratified by each automaker’s union membership. It’s not clear when the automakers’ assembly plants will resume production just yet.

What does all of this mean to you as a consumer? Read on for the strike’s timeline and details.

Related: Is the Inventory Shortage Coming to an End?

The Latest

  • Oct. 30, 2023: GM also reaches a tentative agreement with the UAW, potentially ending the strike at five of its assembly plants.
  • Oct. 28, 2023: Stellantis reaches a tentative agreement with the UAW that, if ratified, will end the strike at two of its assembly plants. The UAW expands the strike to GM’s Spring Hill Manufacturing plant, home of the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac Lyriq, XT5 and XT6.
  • Oct. 26, 2023: Ford reaches a tentative agreement with the UAW, potentially ending the strike at three of its assembly plants.
  • Oct. 24, 2023: GM’s Arlington Assembly plant is idled, home of the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade.
  • Oct. 23, 2023: The strike expands to Stellantis’ Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, sole source of the Ram 1500 pickup.
  • Oct. 11, 2023: A late-night announcement saw the expansion of the strike to Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, home of the Ford Super Duty HD pickups and Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.
  • Oct. 6, 2023: No strike expansion, negotiations continue.
  • Sept. 29, 2023: Strikes expand to two more GM and Ford assembly plants, ones that make popular family SUVs. Plants affected: GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly in Lansing, Mich., home of the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUVs, and Ford’s Chicago Assembly in Chicago, Ill., home of the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator SUVs.
  • Sept. 22, 2023: The UAW announces further walkouts at 38 parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis specifically — but not Ford, as the union claimed negotiation progress had been better.
  • Sept. 15, 2023: The UAW announces a strike at three auto manufacturing plants in the U.S., representing one from each of the Detroit Three automakers — the first time the UAW has struck all three automakers simultaneously in union history. Plants affected: Stellantis’ Toledo Jeep Assembly in Toledo, Ohio, home of the Jeep Wrangler SUV and Gladiator pickup; Ford’s Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Mich., home of the Ford Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup; and GM’s Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, home of the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon pickups and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana vans.

What Does This Mean for Car Shoppers?

As of this writing, the strike affects 10 vehicle assembly plants and more than three dozen GM and Stellantis parts distribution centers after the workers’ contract ended at midnight Sept. 15 without a new contract or extension being signed. data suggests that there is currently an overall drop in inventory for some affected models on dealer lots. The extra production that several automakers ran in August appears to be gone, and inventory for many of the affected vehicles is lower than it was at the start of the strike. Anyone with a vehicle on order from these plants may see a delay, but keeping in touch with the ordering dealership is a good idea to either figure out an alternative (e.g., take a similar model out of inventory) or sit tight and hope for an upcoming resolution to the strike.

Should the UAW expand its strike to automaker plants that supply components, such as engines or transmissions, the resulting general production shutdown across the board would have a more widespread impact on vehicle availability as time goes on. That limitation on vehicle supply could then have an effect on prices for both new and used vehicles.

Parts Distribution Centers Are Down

The UAW has been on strike since Sept. 22 at 38 parts distribution centers for GM and Stellantis across the country. This is likely to have much more impact to consumers than the assembly plant shutdowns because these are the warehouses that send repair and replacement parts to dealer service bays and independent repair shops. This can result in repairs being delayed for vehicles already in shops, or in dealers and repair shops being unable to accept service requests due to unavailable parts.

Both situations put consumers in a bad spot. It means they could be without their vehicle for an extended period in the event of a collision repair or service appointment. It’s also likely to exert pressure on dealerships, which must bear the brunt of customer frustration when a repair can’t be completed or if a customer can’t get their vehicle in for a repair due to lack of parts availability.

Price Impacts

The UAW builds approximately half of the vehicles that are sold annually in the U.S., but only the “domestic” brands. Vehicles built by Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia and others are not impacted by the UAW strike — yet. As such, immediate inventory impacts are not likely unless the strike widens to more plants, goes on for a long time (the current record is a 40-day strike on GM in 2019) or starts to impact supplier plants.

Suppliers, in automotive speak, are separate companies that build the components that go into the vehicles the automakers then assemble into complete vehicles — there are seat suppliers, brake manufacturers, transmission suppliers, etc. Some of these suppliers have started to shut down their plants due to automakers being idled by strikes, such as a seating supplier in Michigan that supplies seats for the idled Ford Bronco plant. If these supplier plants stay idled for a long time, the effects of the strike could then spread to other manufacturers, even those not being directly struck by the UAW, as suppliers begin to struggle financially.

New-vehicle prices are not likely to be impacted much by the strike at first, as the affected Detroit Three automakers can’t raise prices much given their competitors are not facing such issues and likely won’t be raising their own prices. Used-vehicle prices, however, are already seeing some impact from the strike, and it started in August when dealers began buying more vehicles in anticipation of an inventory crunch in September and October from a potential strike. Dealers are betting that if new-vehicle supply is constrained, buyers (who are still in a shopping mood in this mixed economy, despite high interest rates) might turn to used vehicles, spiking used-vehicle demand.

But there is no guarantee however that a new-car shopper will switch to a used-vehicle option given that other automakers are not facing strike-related new-car inventory issues and could poach shoppers with viable alternatives. Prices have already risen for used vehicles last month due to the dealer buying splurge, and those elevated prices are likely to be passed on to consumers shopping for a used car. On the plus side, it means trade-in values also are likely to rise, a boon for anyone trading in a vehicle on something new.

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The Bottom Line

After nearly six weeks, the UAW strike has impacted vehicle inventory from the affected plants. While it’s unclear when the plants will come back online, it could take weeks for inventory to return to their pre-strike levels. While not all models from closed plants were impacted by the strikes, there were some significant vehicles that were: As of Oct. 29, the Jeep Wrangler has a 33.4% decrease in inventory, the Chevrolet Colorado is down 65.8% and the Ford Bronco has a 28.0% decrease. The strike also impacted parts distribution centers, which may affect vehicle owners in need of mechanical or body repairs or routine maintenance.

The final move in the strike resolution is the ratification process. UAW workers at Ford and Stellantis are expected to begin ratification work this week; no timeline has been shared for GM.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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