BUENA VISTA TWP. (WWJ/AP) – A strike at a major auto supplier could have a big impact elsewhere in the auto industry.

United Auto Workers union members at a Nexteer Automotive manufacturing complex in Michigan have walked off the job after workers rejected a tentative contract with the auto parts supplier.

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Workers gathered Tuesday morning outside the complex in Saginaw County’s Buena Vista Township holding picket signs announcing a strike. Employees are being told to report to Local 699 Union Hall at their regular scheduled start time.

The company, formerly known as Saginaw Steering, makes steering systems for a number of automakers and has more than 3,000 union employees at the complex. UAW Local 699 said 97 percent of those who voted opposed the tentative deal with company, which is owned by China-based Pacific Century Motors.

Local 699 member Chad Arndt says union members “spoke as one” in rejecting the deal.

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Nexteer says the rejection of the deal between the company and UAW Local 699 was disappointing. It says it’s evaluating “strategic options” for the facility.

If the walkout isn’t settled quickly, it could have a big impact on some major auto companies.

“GM is Nexteer’s biggest customer, but it also provides steering systems for Fiat Chrysler plants and for some Japanese carmakers,” said WWJ Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert. “No interruptions are reported yet, but it wouldn’t take a long strike before some of those parts dry up and assembly lines would need to shut down.”

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