Autoworker (and wife) turn to side gig as union strike continues

An autoworker who is employed (and still working) at the GM plant in Fort Wayne is also installing items through an arrangement with Angi. On Wednesday, some of his work included installing a light fixture at a home in Warsaw. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — A Larwill man who works at the General Motors plant in Fort Wayne isn’t waiting for the autoworkers strike to impact his job.

The middle-aged man with a beard who declined to give his name for fear of retaliation, is working as a subcontractor for Angi and doing installation work for home improvement companies while also working 40 hour a weeks at GM. 

On Wednesday, he and his wife (they work as a team) were installing an outdoor fixture at a home in Warsaw.

He began the side gig in April out of concern that the current strike could linger and eventually lead to layoffs at his plant in Fort Wayne. 

He said he’s not terribly worried about how long the strike continues, but does think it is possible the closure of other plants will cause a parts shortage theat could cripple the GM plant.

He’s worked at the plant for ten years and has often turned to his handyman skills as a backup.

“Just in case the worst happens, we’re preparing for that,” he said. “I’m building up a nest egg just in case.”

He said pay is his top issue and admits he earns about $32 an hour.

“What used to be a good job at General Motors is now kind of average. I still make good pay. I still have insurance and I still have benefits. I’m not complaining one bit, but my money don’t go near as far as it used to,” he said.

“You can go to Amazon and get $21 an hour” he said. “Here, they were starting at $15.78 not too long ago so people were just bypassing General Motors and going straight to Amazon.”

Thousands of autoworkers are striking at 38 plants and distribution centers across 20 states.

He added, “Slowly but surely, each plant will start to close down because they don’t have parts.”

In 2019, GM employees were affected by a strike but they received unemployment and “sub  pay,” which is a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit.

“This time, they’re unsure whether or not we’ll qualify for sub since we’re the ones that starved ourselves out of parts.”

For now, he’s tracking the developments and hoping for the best. Eventually, the strike will end, he said.

The couple has five children including four who live at home.

He said he appreciates having the second job.

“It’s going good. It’s a not near as good as it could be. It’s slow. I don’t think people want to spend as much money right now so it’s a slow trickle,” he said. “I think spring and summertime it was much busier. But now its slowed down to a few a week.”