Auto Parts Suppliers Brace for Effects of UAW Strike

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Members of UAW Local 2177 in Langhorne, PA, participate in the strike, in these photos posted Sept. 27 to the UAW International Union Facebook page.

As the United Auto Workers’ strike against the Detroit Three stretches into its second week, auto parts suppliers are being forced to respond as demand wanes at new vehicle production plants---but the effects are also trickling down to collision repair shops.

Auto body repair shops still dealing with lingering supply chain issues caused by the pandemic in 2020 might see the situation exacerbated by a prolonged strike.

In Cleveland, OH, William Worley, owner of Piney’s Auto Repair and Customer Service, told News 5 Cleveland he is “bracing for the next hit” as more plants like Stellantis’ parts distribution center in Streetsboro, OH, go on strike.

Juscelino Colares, a business law professor at Case Western Reserve University, told the news outlet dealerships and repair shops should stock up on parts, and vehicle owners should get needed repairs done now before shortages start to materialize.

Tim O’Day, president and CEO of Boyd Group Services Inc., on Oct. 3 commented on the potential impact of the strike.

“To date, the strike has not impacted our ability to source parts required to complete collision repairs; however, should the strike continue for an extended period of time, it is possible that parts supply from General Motors, Stellantis and Ford could be disrupted in a way that could have a material impact on our future results," O'Day said.

“Leading up to this, many of our supplier partners increased their inventory levels to mitigate disruptions to supply. In the event of an extended strike, based on information available to date, a number of actions could be taken to reduce the impact of the supply chain disruption so that some repairs for the impacted vehicles could continue; however, many repairs could be suspended until parts become available," O'Day added.

In Michigan, WXYZ News reported some shop owners are using third-party parts suppliers and junk yards to fill in the gaps when OEM parts aren’t available.

Dave Keene, manager of Kesho Collision in Warren, MI, told the news station his shop was “in a relatively good place for parts” as of Sept. 25, but if the strike continues for a few weeks, customers might have to wait a lot longer for a repair.

“That car’s just gonna sit until those parts are available. That could be months," Keene said.

In Cincinnati, OH, Charlie Smith, a technician at Smith Muffler, told WLWT5 News the shop, owned by his father, sees the strike as a possible boon.

"We weren't getting nervous because if automakers are going on strike, alright, people aren't going to want to buy a new car cause they're skeptical. They're going to want to keep their car. And that's when we come in to play to help them maintain that older car," Smith said.

CNBC reported about 5,600 smaller parts suppliers, employing a total of 871,000 workers, mostly in the Midwest, may need to lay off workers if the strike continues for more than a few weeks. Some have already announced plans to do so.

The Detroit Free Press reported Wixom, MI-based Eagle Industries, Inc., a parts supplier, told state officials it may need to lay off 171 plant workers, production and administration employees---though President John Bull said the paperwork was “precautionary,” and any layoffs would likely affect 55 to 60 employees.

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