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Local car dealership manager reacts to possible outcome of Tuesday's UAW strike authorization vote

While in support of the union workers, Dave White Chevrolet manager Joe Mehling admits a UAW strike would do significant damage to the business's bottom line.

SYLVANIA, Ohio — While a potential United Auto Workers strike would not happen until September, a major vote will take place Tuesday to decide what actions may take place if negotiations with the Big Three are unsuccessful.

UAW chapters anticipate approving the strike authorization, which would clear the way for the union to strike if necessary.

Local UAW 12 and 14 will vote Tuesday as part of the national campaign by the union to show its members are serious about getting "fair" changes to their contracts.

The national results will be known Thursday.

If the union and automakers are unable to reach a deal by the Sept. 14 deadline, a strike would have wide-ranging effects across the industry.

In fact, a new analysis by Anderson Economic Group, a consultancy based in Michigan, said even a 10-day strike could result in $5 billion in losses across the automotive industry, hitting everything including dealerships.

To find out more about how dealerships would be affected by a UAW strike, WTOL 11 spoke to the executive manager of Dave White Chevrolet, Joe Mehling.

Mehling says even discussing such a possibility is a tightrope walk.

"Well, it puts us (automotive dealerships) in a tough spot, because we feel for the employees at UAW and we want to make sure that they're treated correctly and they get a fair contract," Mehling said. "But from our perspective, we've been short on inventory for three and a half, four years, and for us to have a strike that would once again short us on inventory we really don't have, puts our employees in jeopardy."

Mahling said if the workers do end up leaving the factories and hitting the picket lines, it could hurt their business very quickly, especially given that recent events have already reduced their supply.

"We right now have rolling 30-day stock, maybe. We used to carry 300 to 350 vehicles, now we're lucky if we hit 60," Mehling said. "So that's been going on now since the chip shortage, which was over two years ago. So now it will be difficult to maintain any kind of sales regularity."

With no products to be sold, Mehling said consumers could see skyrocketing prices as demand exceeds available products, like it has during the pandemic.

This all means things will get very tight for the dealerships and while they have a supply of used vehicles they can rely on to avoid laying off employees or losing solvency, Mehling said that he hopes for everyone's sake that a resolution can be reached before the Sept. 14 deadline.

"The impact is long-reaching, so we just pray that UAW gets everything handled and GM comes to the table and does the right thing, and everybody ends up in a good way," Mehling said.

While Mehling said they have practiced surviving these kinds of scenarios after the 2019 strike, UAW Local 14's president Tony Totty said if a strike does happen again, autoworkers now have the strike pay and the leadership to make this one last longer than ever before.

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