Economists: UAW strike could hurt Michigan economy

 Workers picket outside the Grand River Assembly plant on Monday afternoon (source, WILX).
Workers picket outside the Grand River Assembly plant on Monday afternoon (source, WILX). (WILX)
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 4:02 PM EDT
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Economists say a recession becomes more possible with each passing day and each missed paycheck for striking GM workers.

There were reports of progress last week, but a lot of that hope was squashed over the weekend as negotiations took a turn for the worse.

Workers walking the picket line are still firm in their support of union leadership. But some GM workers admit money is getting tight as they try to get by on $250 a week in strike pay.

That has a ripple effect for other businesses here in Mid-Michigan

Four weeks into the strike and the honks of support aren't slowing down, but the economy might be.

"We're starting to see an impact, and we're starting to see that impact ripple through the state's economy," Senior Analyst at Anderson Economic Group Sarah Mixon said.

Experts at Anderson Economic Group estimate union workers have lost a combined $450 million in wages, which could lead many families to cut back their spending.

"Workers are going to start conserving more cash and that's going to affect--think about a restaurant who depends on UAW workers at lunchtime...if there are not UAW workers, they may start to feel the impact," Mixon explained. "Local grocery stores may start to feel the impact as workers conserve cash. They'll be less travel, things like that."

Workers like Alonzo Sturdivant are starting to feel the heat. Sturdivant even more so because he had to take time off work recently for a serious motorcycle accident.

"I was already three months with no income, just a very small medical income, so people like me...we [are] definitely feeling the crunch," Sturdivant said.

As workers try to get by, the only thing that the rest of Michigan can do is just wait, and like the UAW, hope for the best.

"The fact that it affects everybody, all I can do is sympathize and hope that they sympathize with us and understand that we are standing for a reason," Sturdivant added. "Because this--people don't understand, this is affecting us the most because this is our future."

The main sticking points right now seem to be the use of temporary workers and the fate of several plants that GM doesn't want to use any more.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting the strike is forcing GM to delay the launch of the new Corvette Stingray. Production was supposed to start later this year at a plant in Kentucky, but that factory will have to fill existing orders of the current Corvette before it can move onto the new one.