LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – As day 18 of the UAW strike of the Big Three automakers comes to a close, some non-union workers learned Monday the strike paused their jobs too.
Paul Peterson works for Meridian Magnesium in Eaton Rapids. He’s been there for about 6 months. But Monday he learned he’d been laid off by the company.
“We’re the little towns working, putting parts for you guys to build,” he tells 6 News. “And you guys go on strike, it hurts us.”
He has a wife and two children at home he’s worried about providing for, he says. He’s one of 25 employees laid off.
“It’s OK,” he says. “We have a little bit of support. I’ve got friends in low places that offer me little side jobs here and there to help me get by, so I am proud of that.”
His best friend Jacob Rice has been working at the same company. He too is laid off.
The duo were at Michigan Works! Monday filling out paperwork for unemployment, something their counterparts on the picket line for the UAW don’t have to worry about. They are getting $500 a week in strike pay from the union.
“I’ve always worked ever since I could,” Rice says. “And first time filling out unemployment, it doesn’t feel right.”
Meridian Magnesium officials did not respond to requests for comment.
But there are other suppliers that have been laid off as a result of the strike. CEI Newcor in Owosso and Corunna laid off nearly 300 people, and Eagle Industries in Wixom laid off nearly 170 people.
“I’m not saying that the parts wouldn’t be there without us,” says Peterson. “But it’s kind of true. You’ve gotta look at the little guys. And that’s what we are: We’re the little guys.”