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UAW launches strike at auto supplier Nexteer's U.S. operations

Auto parts manufacturing plant Nexteer Automotive, formerly the steering unit of General Motors, is seen in the Buena Vista township of Saginaw, Michigan November 18, 2010. Picture taken November 18, 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

By Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) - Union workers at Nexteer Automotive Group Ltd's <1316.HK> plant in Saginaw, Michigan, walked off the job early Tuesday after rejecting a proposed contract, halting production of steering systems and other components essential to vehicle production by General Motors Co (GM.N) and other automakers.

United Auto Workers union Local 699 announced the strike on its Facebook page shortly after midnight on Tuesday.

About 3,200 production workers at Nexteer's Saginaw complex were still off the job as of Tuesday afternoon, Nexteer spokesman Luis Canales said.

Nexteer said in a statement the company is working with the UAW "to resolve the issue in a timely manner."

The strike came after UAW-represented workers at the Saginaw factory voted down a proposed contract by a wide margin on Sunday. Local 699 leaders posted a tally sheet of the vote on Facebook showing 3,103 no votes to 80 yes votes.

GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N) said in statements Tuesday they are monitoring the situation at Nexteer. GM said its production had not been disrupted "at this point." FCA said Nexteer supplies parts to several of its North American factories.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) said in a statement that Nexteer's Saginaw facility "does not directly support any Ford operations in North America," and that Ford is looking into any potential impact through its supply chain.

Nexteer, controlled by a unit of Aviation Industry Corp of China, was formerly part of GM, and remains a major supplier of steering systems and related hardware to the Detroit automaker. Nexteer supplies steering systems for GM's profitable large Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.

A spokesman for UAW leadership in Detroit did not have an immediate comment. Officials at Local 699 could not be reached.

(Editing by Diane Craft and Frances Kerry)