Employees at auto industry supply companies are preparing for potential impacts as the United Auto Workers and Detroit’s “Big Three” are still working on an agreement.
The two sides have been working to reach an agreement since mid-July. The UAW is demanding the elimination of wage levels, the withdrawal of retiree benefits such as health care and pensions, a 32-hour work week and a 46% wage increase. While all three automakers have returned proposals towards the union’s demands, none have been accepted.
The auto workers’ contract currently expires at 11:59 pm on Thursday, and if the two sides do not reach an agreement by then, the union is expected to go on strike.
UAW members told Scripps News Detroit they are preparing to live on reduced wages in the event of a strike, with strike pay dropping $500 a week to workers’ regular wages.
Employees of local auto supplier companies say that they are also preparing to cut their budget.
“We manufacture parts for the Big Three. It’s metal parts in doing that. We deal with robots, robotics,” said Anthony Messina, who works for a supplier he did not want to name. .
Messina says he has worked in the industry for years, including employment at one of the Big Three automakers in the 1990s. He says he and his coworkers are worried about what will happen to them.
“If this strike happens, as I believe it will, and they don’t resolve it within 30 days, maybe even sooner, a lot of people are going to be out of a job,” Messina said. “In turn, they say this will hurt the economy, but I think it’s a little more than that. It could be a total loss for some companies that are trying to recover from this pandemic.”
Messina says UAW members will receive strike pay, but supplier workers are not protected by the union. If they lose their job or their employer goes out of business, workers will be at the mercy of unemployment, which currently allocates $362 per week. He and others are trying to prepare a rainy day fund in case work stops.
“Whether it’s a vending machine or going to a fast food shop during lunch, you’re going to be making cuts because again if you’re going to be making $362 (weekly) and I’m making between $3,500 and $4,000 a month, So you were now paying 26%-27% of what I was making to make a living,” Messina said.
Industry experts say the strike could mean a complete shutdown for small suppliers.
John McElroy said, “The United States made 8 million fewer vehicles over the past three years than it would have otherwise. Car companies were still able to raise their prices and make money – even with car dealers – not true for suppliers. Is.” With autoline.
McElroy says supplier closures due to the pandemic, when chip shortages and production slowed, could have a huge impact in the future.
“The large, million-dollar, multinational suppliers, they will be able to manage this because they have other locations in the world where they sell and make products that are not affected by the UAW strike. It’s the smaller companies, Tier 2 and Tier 3, supplier to supplier,” McElroy said. it.”
This story was originally published by Whitney Burney and Adam Tabor Scripps News Detroit.