FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — The striking GM workers may have ground operations to a halt at their 55 American plants, but their strike is already affecting thousands of other people right here at home.
“Our employees are asking a lot of questions about health insurance and how we’re going to be notified, so is there a good time I can come in and talk to you or we can talk?” Theresa Bradin asks.
She’s been on the phone non-stop since UAW members walked off the job at General Motors.
“Our eggs are in one basket. We are GM only,” she says.
As union chair at Avancez, a GM parts supplier, Bradin represents 300 employees who install components like wiring and dome lights into headliners which are then sent across the street to Allen County’s GM plant.
They were all laid off when the GM workers went on strike.
“We’re scared. I have goosebumps, we’re scared. We’ll get our last paycheck Thursday,” Bradin says.
She says even though Avancez employees belong to the same UAW Local 2209 as the local GM employees, they don’t qualify for the union’s strike benefits, and can’t file for unemployment until their company provides them a letter.
“I have to look. That’s all I’m telling you. I have to look for another job if this goes on even three weeks. I can’t. I’m solely the sole provider. I’m by myself,” Bradin says.
“I’m living paycheck to paycheck. My husband’s on disability but that’s just once a month because he’s diabetic so he’s unable to work. So I’m sole provider in my household, as well. And the insurance carrier. That’s one thing that scares me to death is being without insurance because of my husband’s situation,” Kristi Hunnicutt says.
Hunnicut and Bradin they say they make about $15 an hour, but are really worried about the single parents at Avancez who make $11.25.
That’s because they’ve been through this before.
“We’re just now bouncing back from the whole UTEC situation. I was making quite a bit there, I had some seniority. And then without a job, and then kind of start building things back up and get to a spot where you feel you’re comfortable, and then wham,” Hunnicutt says.
Even with their futures uncertain, they say they stand with the GM employees.
“We’re all going to pull together. We’re all just going to be there for each other. You’ve got to have somebody to cry to,” Bradin says.