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100,000 non-UAW workers losing pay during GM strike

John Gallagher And Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

DETROIT -- A new analysis estimates that as many as 100,000 workers -- beyond the roughly 46,000 UAW strikers -- have been laid off, face pay reductions or have otherwise been hurt by the lengthening strike against General Motors.

The East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group estimated Tuesday that 25,000 salaried GM workers have seen their wages affected. In addition, another 75,000 employees of auto parts suppliers have either been temporarily laid off or had their wages reduced since GM assembly plants were not taking their parts or services, AEG estimated in its new analysis.

"What started as a concentrated event affecting a select group of workers has now ballooned in scope," said Brian Peterson, AEG's director of public policy and economic analysis.

In a phone interview, Peterson said an analysis of GM's financial filings indicates that 25,000 white-collar GM employees have jobs linked to the work of striking UAW members. Some of those white-collar employees may be taking furloughs or are contract workers told not to come in during the strike.

Lost profit sharing

Others may still be working but will see their profit-sharing checks or bonuses reduced this year because of strike-related losses.

"Another big one for the auto parts suppliers in that many of (their workers) are hourly," Peterson added. "If you work at a parts supplier where 25% of your business is making parts for GM vehicles, there's obviously going to be either a layoff or reduced hours for those individuals making parts for GM."

Losses have spread far and wide and impacted suppliers to GM plus everything from car dealers to restaurants that catered to UAW members.

An estimated 10,000 assembly workers in Canada and Mexico have been put on temporary layoff because of parts shortages related to the strike.

"I think if you're an automotive parts supplier, maybe you can handle a couple of weeks of not doing business with GM because you're doing business with Ford or Toyota or Honda," Peterson said. "But at some point when 25% of your businesses is GM, it's hard to go on for more than a few weeks without that having a major impact."

About 46,000 UAW members walked off the job when the strike against GM began on Sept. 16. And while the impact of the strike has been gradually widening, the figure of 100,000 non-UAW members being hurt by the walkout remains startling.

Through the first three weeks of the UAW strike, AEG estimated that strike-related losses include $660 million in lost profits for GM, direct wage losses for all employees in excess of $412 million, $155 million in lost federal income and payroll tax revenue, and $9.1 million in lost Michigan income tax revenue.

Other estimates have put GM's losses at $1 billion through last week. While the automaker isn't paying its hourly labor force, it's losing production, the profit from which ordinarily is booked when new vehicles are shipped to dealerships.

Janitors, too

 

Meanwhile, the UAW notified its local union leaders on Tuesday that no agreement is in sight for 850 Aramark janitorial workers who have been striking for 24 days in Michigan and Ohio.

"We continue to meet with the company and are still not in agreement on key issues such as wages and health care," wrote Terry Dittes, vice president and director of the UAW General Motors Department.

In a letter sent electronically, he said, "We thank you for your sacrifices and loyalty during this difficult time. We will continue to work hard on your behalf to reach a tentative agreement that is good for you and your families!"

Oshesha Lewis, 41, of Montrose held the strike line at the Flint Assembly Plant over the weekend. He said everybody is prepared to return to work as soon as possible but he is certain GM workers will not cross the picket line if they have an agreement and the janitors do not.

"Some of them was crying when they had to cross last time. They said they was sorry," Lewis said Tuesday. "We're all as one, all as one union."

UAW autoworkers had to cross the line in Flint prior launching the national strike on Sept. 16 at 12:01 a.m.

Aramark employees represented by the UAW went out on strike at GM plants a day earlier. They have worked on a contract extension since March 2018. Members say they haven't had a pay increase for years.

GM has outsourced many of its plant janitorial jobs and some other operational work to Aramark. Aramark manages service jobs at five GM sites: Flint Assembly, Flint Engine Operations, Flint Metal Center; the Metal Center Parma, Ohio, and the Technical Center in Warren. Beyond janitorial work, the employees do some jobs key in keeping factories operational.

Timika Hartwell, 44, of Flint walked the picket line because, she explained, workers haven't had raises "in a very long time."

How long? "Well, I started in 2008 ..." she said. "It's surreal. I cannot believe we're out here. It's kind of a shock to me. It still hadn't set in. Like, the first two weeks, I thought, 'Wow, we're on strike.' I've got kids to take care of. But you've got to fight. You have to make it work. I know at the end of this tunnel there's a light."

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