GM Suppliers Hurting From Autoworkers Strike, Too The UAW strike against GM is in its fourth week, and businesses that supply the automaker are losing millions each day. In Lansing, Mich., more than 11,000 people who supply parts are out of work.

GM Suppliers Hurting From Autoworkers Strike, Too

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The strike at General Motors is affecting people who do not work at General Motors. GM makes use of many suppliers. And when the United Auto Workers stops the assembly line, it affects everyone on the supply chain.

Here's Abigail Censky of our member station WKAR.

ABIGAIL CENSKY, BYLINE: Lansing, Mich., has nine regional GM suppliers - companies that do everything from producing ads to making parts for its cars and trucks. Taken together, we're talking about more than 6,000 jobs. And that means there are actually more supplier jobs here than direct GM jobs.

Patrick Anderson is the CEO of the Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing. His firm has been putting out weekly estimates not only about how much money GM is losing but also the strike's effect on UAW workers and nonunion employees working for GM suppliers.

Through last week, he estimates that combined, they've lost more than $400 million. That's tens of millions of dollars each and every day the strike continues.

PATRICK ANDERSON: If you've got that many GM workers and suppliers, you're going to feel it, and nowhere is the concentration like Michigan. And it means white-collar, blue-collar, new-collar, every kind of collar is affected by this. And I am very concerned about Michigan going into a one-state recession.

CENSKY: In the fourth week of the strike, nearly 11,000 people here in Lansing are feeling the economic pinch and having to drastically cut back on their spending.

Tamara Farrell knows that all too well. She's co-owner of Tony M's - a blue-collar banquet hall and bar outside of the plant that makes Chevy Traverses and Buick Enclaves.

The building's exterior mirrors the drab industrial park surrounding it. But inside, it's warm and kitschy with Italian decor and the sound of gambling machines and daytime TV. Only three guys are sitting at the end of the long mahogany bar where Farrell says she's had to stop serving third-shift breakfast because all of her regulars are out of work.

TAMARA FARRELL: This long table behind you - there was probably 15 people sitting there. That's the day we came in and we were told, GM is on strike. You go home. They have nothing to do with GM.

CENSKY: Michael Grimaldi isn't surprised that Tony M's is hurting for business. He's a skilled trade worker at Magna Dexsys - a supplier that makes bumpers and fascia for the Cameros, Cadillacs and Buicks made in Lansing. His income was slashed in the first couple weeks of the strike.

MICHAEL GRIMALDI: Being in the auto industry, you kind of learn that it's feast or famine. And just because things are going really well doesn't mean that they always go well. So you try to prepare, but you can never prepare for an unknown end to something.

CENSKY: Grimaldi just went back to work because he does electrical maintenance that can be performed at any time. But he guesses 95% of his over 500 co-workers at the plant are still out of work. Grimaldi says he's worried about people working for suppliers who are in strike mode even though they didn't vote to strike.

GRIMALDI: And it's like all the focus is on GM. That's the spotlight. But just outside the spotlight, I'm watching in the dark, in the shadows, but nobody can see me because the spotlight is only so big. So it's tough. And I've been literally talking about it with my wife and my friends, and we have not been mentioned at all. And, I mean, there's people that are going to be - not going to be able to recover for a long time.

CENSKY: Since the strike began, Michigan's unemployment officials estimate that a third of the 15,000 claims made relate to the strike. And that doesn't include the nearly 20,000 UAW workers who are not eligible for unemployment because they get $250 per week in strike pay.

For now, in places like Lansing, thousands of people who didn't go on strike and aren't represented in the talks remain out of work.

For NPR News, I'm Abigail Censky in Lansing.


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