HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) —The strike by United Auto Workers for higher pay, benefits and job security is only a couple of weeks old, but if it continues, the strike could impact the many auto parts suppliers located in northeast Indiana.
On its website, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. says 28,000 people in northeast Indiana work in automotive technology and at least five of the suppliers are in Allen County – GM Assembly, Rea Magnet Wire, Multimatic, Voss Automotive and Michelin BF/Goodrich.
Dana Corporation temporarily laid off 240 employees on Monday at its Fort Wayne plant. The layoffs came after the UAW strike impacted work at the plant where workers make parts for the Big Three automakers. The affected employees and employees who support Dana customers will be laid off until agreements are made between the union and automakers.
Lear Corporation, headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, has a plant in Columbia City that employs about 500 people and is one of the top 10 employers in Whitley County, said Dale Buuck, president of Whitley County Economic Development Corp.
In Huntington, the automotive industry has a greater impact. Its top three employers are automotive-related and help put bread on the table for more than 1,500 families. Layoffs could affect up to 4,000 people, according to Mark Wickersham, Huntington County Economic Development executive director.
Nearly 400 people who live in Huntington work at GM Assembly in Fort Wayne, just across the county line. GM is the third largest county employer, accounting for a tenth of GM’s workforce.
Teijin Automotive Technologies, a Japanese firm, employs between 600 and 650 people. The company makes exterior body panels for mid-engine Chevy Corvette that’s shipped to the assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Teijin also makes truck beds for the GMC Sierra Sierra Denali CarbonPro version. It also makes fenders for the Ford F-150 Raptor.
The non-union plant “is in the supply chain for GM and Ford on very significant products,” Wickersham said.
In the same industrial park, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, “is almost exclusively involved in the manufacture of large trucks – semi-tractors, commercial trucks and a subcontractor or a school bus maker.
Bendix, owned by Knorr-Bremse, based in Germany, employs about 575 in the county and manufactures “braking systems, air brakes and every component in the braking system, steering columns for commercial trucks and builds technologies that allow a transmission to link with a braking system,” Wickersham said.
“The whole supply chain could affect them, but not so far,” Wickersham said. “At the moment we’re still fine, but a little nervous.”
Wickersham said he worries about the families. Huntington County has an overall workforce of 17,000 and 4,000 could be affected by the strike – a “significant part of our economy”
Buuck said Lear officials and workers are anticipating and “want to know when it’s their turn.”
Buuck said Lear officials and workers are anticipating and “want to know when it’s their turn. They’ve kind of been planning and figuring out what will happen. The plant manufactures all the seats for GM Assembly.”
WANE 15 reached out to other suppliers and the Allen County and Fort Wayne economic development corporations, and has yet to hear back.