AP GM Says UAW Calls National Strike Monday September 24, 11:54 am ET By Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers GM Says UAW Has Launched a National Strike Against the Automaker DETROIT (AP) -- The United Auto Workers has launched a national strike against General Motors Corp., GM spokesman Dan Flores said Monday. It's the first nationwide strike during auto contract negotiations since 1976. Workers walked off the job and began picketing Monday outside GM plants after UAW's late morning strike deadline passed. It remained to be seen what effect the strike would have on the automaker and consumers. The company has sufficient stocks of just about every product to withstand a short strike, according to Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power and Associates. Charlie Coppinger, who has worked at GM's powertrain plant in Warren for 31 years, walked the picket line along with a handful of others shortly after the deadline passed. The 51-year-old Rochester Hills resident said he hoped a strike could be settled quickly, but that union members were on the line to back the union and its bargainers. "We're just here to support them," said Coppinger, who said leaflets were passed out indicating that the strike was on. It's the first nationwide UAW strike during contract negotiations since 1976, when Ford Motor Co. plants were shut down. Flores said the automaker is disappointed in the UAW's decision to call a national strike. "The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company. We remain fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing GM," Flores said. Included in the negotiations was a groundbreaking provision establishing a UAW-managed trust that would administer GM's retiree health care obligations. GM pushed hard for the trust -- known as a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association, or VEBA -- so it could move $51 billion in unfunded retiree health costs off its books. GM has nearly 339,000 retirees and surviving spouses.