On Friday, September 15, United Auto Workers (UAW) initiated a labor strike against the “Big 3” automakers: Ford, GM, and Stellantis. According to BBC News, “The two sides are negotiating over issues such as pay, days off, and cost of living adjustments.” Upon the expiration of UAW’s 2019 labor contract with the Big 3, the Union has strategically shut down one plant for each. With this unprecedented strike continuing for nearly one week, the automakers have until tomorrow, Friday, September 22 at noon to reach a deal. UAW has made it known that if a deal is not met by his new deadline, they will expand the strike to include additional plants.
Dave Sanford – Plant Manager
We sat down with Team 1 Plastics President, Craig Carrel, and Plant Manager, Dave Sanford, to discuss the current impacts of the UAW strike on the company, and what an extended strike could mean for business. Both remain cautious, yet optimistic. “We have set ourselves up financially to have money and have a credit line in place,” shared Dave. “We were unsure if the strike was going to happen, but we are fortunate enough to be able to ride this out if it is prolonged.”
Craig Carrel – President/Co-owner
Adding to that point, Craig emphasized that Team 1 has “other customers that won’t be a part of the strike and we could see increases in their orders due to the others’ plants not running.” Another protective factor for the company is the recent diversification of its customer base. “We don’t have a significant majority of our products with any one customer or automaker,” added Craig. “This benefits us in making it through the strike.”
Despite this optimism, Craig and Dave both agree that adjustments may need to be made if the strike and plant shutdowns continue. “We could ride this out for a couple of weeks,” said Dave, “or at the end of the week they could shut everything down and we would need to adjust…The impact on us is very minimal right now, but we will handle this the same as we have handled the other recent ‘curveballs’ like COVID and supply chain issues.” Some customer orders have been canceled due to the current strike, but the outlook remains strong for Team 1 for the remainder of the month, despite the outcome of negotiations.
Craig, Dave, and Team 1 Vice President/Co-Owner Gary Grigowski all agree that communication is key for the company’s suppliers, customers, and Team Members. To keep the Team informed, the Co-owners have promised to give weekly updates on the UAW strike, while continuing to stay available for any questions and concerns. In an email this week to all Team Members, Craig and Gary assured, “We will continue to monitor our orders daily and adjust our operating schedule on a department-by-department basis if there is a significant impact to our orders…We need to be prepared to handle any new situation and act swiftly to maintain our healthy financial condition.”