WENTZVILLE — Businessmen and officials here Friday grappled with what could become an economic blow as 3,700 workers at General Motors Co., the region’s largest employer, went on strike.

Many remember the last strike of the United Auto Workers against General Motors, in 2019, which lasted 40 days. They said the effects of this strike may not hit businesses immediately, but will be felt throughout society.

“Members live here, work here, play here, and spend dollars here,” Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione said. “It’s a big economic engine for the community. It’s our largest employer. So hopefully this won’t last long.”

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If the strike continues, it could be a blow to the network of companies in the area that supply the GM plant. During the recent strike, the city’s tax revenues were damaged.

“This is big, this time. It’s all three automakers,” Guccione said. “I hope they come back to the table, and cool heads will prevail.”

Jordan Dugum, owner of Grab and Go, which is about 10 minutes from the Wentzville plant, said Friday afternoon he’s already seen a change.

“We’re worried. We haven’t seen a big hit yet but we’re already feeling it,” he said. “The numbers have slowed down. We have two other stores and they feel it too.

Typically, the convenience store sees workers for lunch and dinner, and at odd hours, given the different shifts GM employees work.

“We see them all the time. You’ll see the regulars that live here still come, but there’s a bunch of people that live 20, 30, 40 minutes away that we won’t see anymore,” Dugum said.

In 2019, Dugum said his company saw fewer customers, but the walkout was not as severe as he thought it would be.

“It’s shaking people who know it’s coming. This is a hard blow,” he said. “This is going to hurt a lot of companies — not just GM, but everyone who works with them.”

The strike began after automakers GM, Ford, Stellantis and the UAW failed to reach agreements before their labor contracts expired at 11:59pm on Thursday. GM has 4,100 employees at its Wentzville assembly plant. 3,700 are UAW members.

“It could impact supplies when things start flowing,” Discount Tire employee Mark Cutshall said. “You usually hear about a strike and other businesses tend to get nervous. There’s not much we can do but we’re trying to help the best we can and weather the storm with them.”

Other area companies pledged their solidarity with the cause.

Co-owner Ray Potthoff of Rookies Bar and Grill off Route 40 said he doesn’t think they’ll see an immediate decline in customers, but workers will likely “watch their wallets for a while.”

During the 2019 strike, co-owner Kim Potthof said they took wings to feed workers on the picket line, and they are interested in doing so again.

“We have to stand by them and support them,” she said Friday morning. “They support our city. They work hard.”

Since the restaurant is a little further from the General Motors plant than other local bars, Ray Potthoff said he doesn’t expect to see a significant decline in business.

Alfano Pizza owner John Alfano said the company will offer a discount on pizza to striking GM workers.

GM workers can buy a large pizza for the price of a small pizza during a strike. Alfano said his company made this deal the last time the union went on strike and asked customers for donations, which he took to the picket line. He said he ended up having to give up $1,000 worth of privileges.

“They are the main economic force in the region. We have to stand behind them,” he said.

Jackie Mueller, treasurer at Save A Lot, said she had not heard about the strike until Friday morning. However, she said she was not surprised by the action given the recent uptick in labor movements across the country.

GM boosted Wentzville by opening the plant in the early 1980s, she said.

“There was a real estate boom and people came to town to work,” she said. “Wentzville is here because of GM.”

Post-Dispatch reporter Annika Meirelles contributed to this report.

TheStreet’s JD Durkin brings you the morning’s top news, including Arm’s first day of trading and the UAW strike officially on.

Muffin – The Street National

    (Tags for translation) Business 

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