The United Auto Workers’ strike from General Motors has impacted Michigan’s economy, and Hillsdale County is no stranger to its effects.
The strike has delayed, and in some cases, stopped the production of auto parts, affecting the businesses of both auto part manufacturers and car dealerships in Hillsdale County.
The Collegian reached out to a representative of Martinrea Steel in Jonesville, Michigan, who said the strike has made an impact because GM is 40% of their business. They declined to comment further.
Owner of the Hillsdale Buick GMC Ken Joswiak said the main impact on their dealership has been the availability of parts.
“We usually get our parts from General Motors,” Joswiak said. “We’re still receiving the majority of items, but some things are hard to get. There are certain parts we’re losing.”
The main problem, Joswiak said, is that GM is behind on shipping the dealership the parts they need to repair cars.
“What is now happening is we’re experiencing a lot of delays,” Joswiak said.
“It may be a door panel or a corner panel, either way, the shipping is taking longer than usual. And we’re hearing the same story from others across town.”
Joswiak said that his dealership had an 80-day supply of cars when the strike began, so they have yet to have any issues with car inventory. If the strike continues for another month, however, it will begin to significantly impact inventory.
“The longer the strike goes, we’re going to see more and more things affected,” Joswiak said. “As it goes on, nothing stays the same. It just gets worse and worse. I hope the strike ends this week.”
Zeke Adams, a sales consultant at the Frank Beck Chevrolet in Hillsdale, said the strike has not seemed to affect him yet, but he has talked to some GM employees still working who said it has made it harder on them. The employees that he talked to said they were not worried, however, and thought it was fair for the UAW members to go on strike.
According to a Wall Street Journal article by Kris Maher, the prolonged strike will hit the economy of Michigan hardest because it has about 15 GM manufacturing facilities that employ tens of thousands of workers, which is more than any other state.
“Michigan relies far more on the automotive industry for wage and salary income than the U.S. as a whole,” Maher reported. “The sector accounts for 7% of such income, compared with less than 2% nationally, according to Moody’s Investors Service.”
The strike does not just affect the auto industry, it also impacts the restaurants, shopping centers, and other businesses near GM plants.
“Lost earnings to workers will result in lower sales-tax and income-tax revenues for the state, and some local businesses near idled GM plants are already reporting lost sales,” Maher wrote.
According to Joswiak, there have already been some layoffs happening in Hillsdale County.