Local UAW contract negotiations aren't going well for General Motors, and today they took a turn for the worst as union members at the automaker's Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas walked off the job at 10AM EST. The bulk of GM's hot-selling Chevy Malibu are produced at the Fairfax plant, with a lesser number of the four-door sedan being built at the automaker's Orion plant in suburban Detroit. Last month GM sold 17,050 Malibus, a 39.5% increase in volume over April 2007. The local union in Fairfax had given GM a number of ultimatums, extending them since the first was established for April 22nd. We're not exactly sure what issue is at the heart of these contract negotiations, but The Detroit News reports that at least one bone of contention is the plant requesting seniority to snag transfer jobs, while the other issues remain undisclosed.

General Motors has been able to weather a 10-week strike by union members against American Axle, one of its main suppliers, as only production of large trucks and SUVs have been affected. Another strike at its Lansing Delta Township plant where the large Lambda CUVs are built has also only served to reduce inventories of vehicles that are seeing a slow down in sales. While the General can withstand a reduction of inventory for vehicles that currently aren't selling as well as they were before because of high gas prices and a slump in the housing market, the Malibu is gaining popularity with consumers month over month. The Fairfax and Orion plants were already producing at capacity to keep up with demand, so today's strike will assuredly hurt the automaker where it matters most: the bottom line. We'd expect GM to act quickly to end the strike, as money is being lost by the hour while Malibus aren't being built.

[Source: The Detroit News]