During the short, two-day strike against General Motors, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the 10,000 automotive transport workers it represents who move components into General Motors (GM) plants and finished vehicles from production said they would honor the UAW picket lines. The Teamsters said most contracts include "sympathy language" that precludes union drivers losing their jobs if they choose not to cross picket lines of other striking unions.
Rails were little affected by the interruption in automotive volumes, according to Morgan Stanley Research North America. The group's automotive analyst, Jonathan Steinmetz, suggested even if the strike had lasted for weeks, it would have little impact on railroads' third-quarter earnings because automakers allowed inventories to build in anticipation of a strike. That, he continued, could explain some of the strength in recent automotive industry volumes handled by the railroads.
Working through an analysis of automotive volumes by railroad and estimating the impact of GM volumes, a Morgan Stanley report estimates the greatest revenue exposure for any of the major railroads is just 3%. Burlington Northern-Santa Fe has no exposure on GM traffic, according to Morgan Stanley. Both Canadian National and Norfolk Southern have a 2.1% revenue exposure, CSX has a 2.6% exposure, and Union Pacific tops the list with an estimated 3% revenue exposure.
"Though the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike will only directly impact US labor, part shortages will cause plant closures in Canada and possibly even Mexico," says the Morgan Stanley analyst. GM imports, though small, should be unaffected, the report continued.