UAW strikes GM Kansas plant making Chevy Malibu

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp union workers at a Kansas assembly plant making the hot-selling Chevrolet Malibu went on strike Monday morning, the automaker and the union said.

The plant in Fairfax, Kansas, employs about 1,800 hourly workers who walked out at 10 a.m. EDT Monday morning. The strike came after GM and United Auto Workers Local 31 failed to reach agreement on plant-level rules following a four-year national contract approved last year.

The Kansas strike is one of several labor disputes to hit GM in recent weeks, crimping production for the No. 1 U.S. automaker and threatening some of its better-selling vehicles.

GM shares fell 3 percent after news of the strike broke.

UAW workers remain on strike at GM’s Lansing Delta Township plant in Michigan where the company builds its crossover vehicles, like the Buick Enclave.

GM makes the 2008 Malibu in Kansas and at a second plant in Orion, Michigan. UAW workers at the Michigan plant also assemble the Pontiac G6 and have reached a local contract agreement with GM.

The Malibu has been a commercial and critical success for GM at a time of slumping overall demand, selling for higher prices on average and at a faster rate than the model it replaced since its launch late last year.

“We are disappointed that UAW Local 31 has taken the strike action at Fairfax,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said. “From a GM perspective, we are going to remain focused on reaching an agreement as soon as we can and hope this is a very short disruption.”

The union notified GM of the strike deadline on Sunday.

Flores said GM would look at its options in terms of production for the Malibu, but the priority was to resolve the dispute at the Kansas plant.

GM is negotiating with the UAW at other plants where talks have been extended indefinitely. Those plants include a transmission facility in Warren, Michigan; a stamping plant near Grand Rapids, Michigan; and a stamping plant in Mansfield, Ohio.

About 30 GM facilities have also been idled or partly idled due to a UAW strike against supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings that has run for more than two months. That strike has cut production of GM’s slow-selling full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs.

GM shares fell 3.02 percent, or 70 cents, to $22.50 in late morning New York Stock Exchange trading.

Editing by Maureen Bavdek