Detroit Today: How are auto suppliers doing amid UAW strikes?

There’s been much attention given to union leaders’ and workers’ reactions to the strikes. But what about the auto suppliers?

Striking UAW worker pickets near a Mopar Parts Distribution Center in Center Line, Michigan.

It’s now been more than two weeks since the United Auto Workers went on strike against Detroit automakers Stellantis, General Motors and Ford Motor Company, with the UAW announcing Friday it would expand the strike to two more auto plants — affecting an additional 7,000 workers in Illinois and Michigan.

While there’s been much media attention related to union leaders’ and workers’ reactions to the strikes, there are other voices being affected who aren’t as often a part of the conversation.

Auto suppliers, who produce and distribute the parts that get installed and assembled by auto workers, are also starting to feel the heat from these strikes, with about 75% of part makers expected to lay off workers if the strikes continue beyond two weeks, one supplier group reported.

To discuss this, we had two guests who work directly with auto suppliers — attorney Daniel Rustmann and Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of the consulting firm Harbour Results — on Detroit Today this morning.

Subscribe to Detroit Today on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle or wherever you get your podcasts.


Daniel Rustmann is an attorney and shareholder at the Butzel Long law firm. He’s also the co-chair of their automotive section. He says that events, natural disasters, etc. of the past two years have left automotive sub suppliers in a precarious spot.

“The suppliers have been losing money, they’ve been hurting,” said Rustmann. “The carmakers are able to raise prices to their consumers…but the suppliers aren’t always able to raise their prices to the customer because they are largely at their mercy…”

Laurie Harbour is the president and CEO of Harbour Results, Inc., a consulting firm in Southfield that collaborates with auto suppliers. She says if the automotive sub suppliers reduce volumes now it will be difficult to start up again. 

“The problem here is they haven’t been billing customers for the last three weeks…so to turn the spigot on and buy the material, they just won’t have the cash,” says Harbour. 

Listen to Detroit Today with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.