Nearly four weeks in the United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors, workers are beginning to feel the pinch of moving with their regular paychecks.
They are scaling back at the grocery store, giving up on eating at restaurants and a few are taking on part-time tasks while attempting to get by on a week strike pay of $250.
“In a couple of more weeks, I think everybody’s going to be calling the bank or their creditors, going, ‘Hey, probably going to be late or delinquent,'” stated Mike Armentrout, who works at GM’s transmission plant in Toledo.
While pressure is intensifying to reach a deal, the losses for the two sides are mounting and spilling over into the automobile supply chain.
Striking full-time employees are losing about $1,000 per week, and that is not counting the overtime most of these make.
Dolphin Green, a temporary employee with an engine and transmission plant in the Detroit suburb of Romulus, Michigan, took a job washing dishes in a restaurant to make ends meet.
“I’m willing to sacrifice as long as possible,” he explained.
He has only been with GM for four weeks, which makes just under $16 per hour, but has hopes of moving full-time so he could support a family.
The use of temporary employees has been a significant problem in the contract negotiations, together with outsourcing work to other nations, a stage that surfaced on Tuesday.
Green has cut spending and has a girlfriend that has a fantastic job. But he is concerned about a child support payment coming up at the end of the month, and it has talked to his case worker about temporarily reducing the obligations.
Dennis Earl, president of UAW Local 14 in Toledo, said the union is doing what it can to help employees by advising them how to manage bills that are piling up.
The marriage hall’s kitchen is serving meals round the clock and contributions of food and household items are pouring in from other labour groups in the region. “Nobody’s going to go hungry,” he explained.
“As this goes on and becomes more difficult, there’s going to be some agitation, but for the most part these people are in it for the long haul,” he explained.
A Wall Street analyst estimates that GM has dropped over $1.6 billion since the work stoppage began, and is currently losing about $82 million daily. Sooner or later, the reductions will exceed what GM would save in holding out for more favorable terms from the marriage.
GM dealers throughout the country report still-healthy stock in their lots, but they are running short of parts to repair their customers’ vehicles, and a few have had to cancel service appointments.
The attack immediately closed down about 30 GM factories across the U.S., basically ending the provider’s production. Factories in Canada and Mexico remained open for some time, but one assembly plant in Canada and another in Mexico have been forced to shut down because of parts shortages. Analysts anticipate the closures to propagate to the few remaining plants which are open.
Many employees stocked away emergency money after being warned for weeks by union leaders about the potential for a strike, but they said GM’s temporary employees who make less could not do that.
“We all knew this was coming for a long time, I’m set up. A lot of guys aren’t in that same spot,” stated Tim Leiby, an eight-year worker in Toledo. “I’ve got all my bills paid, but I know some people who don’t.”
Still, he is cutting back on eating out, going to the movies and spending money on hobbies because “we don’t know how long this will last.”
He also stated he has a cousin who will not speak to him today since the strike has shut down the welding shop where she works.
“It’s affecting everybody, it’s affecting families. Even families that don’t work here,” he explained.
The Anderson Economic Group, a consulting company in East Lansing, Michigan, estimates that 75,000 employees at car parts supply companies have been laid off or had their salaries reduced due to the strike.
That does not include waitresses, convenience store clerks and others that are seeing their hours cut since striking workers are not out spending money.
Truck driver Glen Hodge, who hauls scrap metal by a stamping plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, has been off the job the past 3 weeks.
Since that time, he’s filed for unemployment, dropped his cable TV bundle, stopped going out to eat with his wife and even cut back on dog treats. It disturbs him somewhat when he sees gift cards and donations pouring in for the striking workers.
“What about the rest of us?” he said on Wednesday. “There’s a bunch of us sitting around getting nothing.”
Krisher reported from Romulus, Michigan. Associated Press video journalist Mike Householder contributed to this report.