Businesses near auto plants plan to support UAW members if they strike

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – If the United Auto Workers doesn’t reach a deal with the Big Three before the current contract expires next Thursday night and members go on strike, it’s expected to have a ripple effect across the economy, beginning with businesses near the auto plants. 

Some of the regulars at Dave’s Barbershop usually pop in before or after their shift at the Chrysler Stamping Plant across the street on Van Dyke north of 15 Mile Roads.

“They’ve all been working for 20, 30 years. So they are the main employees over there. They’re good,” said shop owner Dave Ballo.

Andres Gutierrez/CBS Detroit

Ballo isn’t worried about the possibility that at the end of next week, those workers may walk off the job. 

“Barbershop is different, to be honest. You need a haircut no matter what. Restaurants, maybe I’m wrong, but I assume maybe they got a little bit slow (sic),” Ballo said.

The UAW hasn’t said if they’ll pick just one company to strike or go for all three. But going after all three could drain their strike fund in less than three months.

“Nobody wants a strike because it’s inconvenient for the workers, the communities that they work in, and it has repercussions. And it’s not good for the consumers because ultimately somebody is going to have to pay for this strike,” Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, told the Associated Press.

When GM workers went on strike in 2019 for 40 days, it cost the automaker more than $3 billion. This time around, analysts say a 10-day strike would hit the three automakers hard, costing them nearly $1 billion.

“I mean, they (the Detroit auto companies) are vulnerable. They’re not quite as vulnerable as UPS, perhaps, but they are vulnerable, and they have to – both sides have to realize that,” Masters said.

Off camera, other business owners along Van Dyke told CBS News Detroit they are ready to support workers who hit the picket line by offering discounts at their establishments for however long the strike lasts. 

The union has several demands. They include a 46% pay increase, a 32-hour work week, a return to traditional pensions plus other benefits.

“I think it’ll be better for them. They’ll be better. They’ll be more happy at work making more money,” Ballo said.