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Automakers are not the only business that will be affected by the UAW strike

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At some point, if it goes on, this strike affects auto parts suppliers. And that's why we've called Todd Olson, CEO of Twin City Die Castings in Minneapolis, Minn. Welcome to the program.

TODD OLSON: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Would you just describe for us what your business does and how long you've been doing it?

OLSON: Yes. We are a supplier of aluminum and magnesium components that go into electronic enclosures that might house camera systems or control systems, supply fan clutches, mirror mounts, transmission parts. And we've been doing it quite a while. We've been in business since 1919. We're one of the oldest die casters in the United States.

INSKEEP: Wow. So you were doing this even before there were cameras and these sort of things in cars that are in them today. That's impressive. You supply all three of the big three automakers?

OLSON: Yes, we do, and the transplants and Tesla.

INSKEEP: Oh, OK. And so what does this strike mean for you?

OLSON: Well, we - right now it looks like the impact to us is going to be fairly muted right now with the different tactics that they took to shut down specific assembly plants. This time we've kind of got lucky. I think it's going to affect about 2 to 3% of our revenue. But a larger strike could impact up to 20% of our revenue overall.

INSKEEP: OK. So the question is, how big does this get? That's the question you guys have to wrestle with there.

OLSON: Yes, absolutely. And the targeted strike here was - with those specific plants was kind of a positive signal to me maybe that the UAW is seeing a little bit of progress here because it could have been much more painful right out of the gate.

INSKEEP: I'm interested because your company is so old. There must be company lore, I would think. And Camila Domonoske there was referring to strikes in the 1930s, strikes in the 1970s, different labor trends in more recent decades. Are there stories about how some of those past strikes affected your business?

OLSON: Yes. We've been supplier to the automotive industry for 104 years. And even just the recent strike, you know, I was involved in in 2019 - that was for 42 days against GM. That's in our memories for sure. But through the '70s we've lived through it. So that's one of the things that gives me some hope here, is knowing that these things have happened - are pretty much the whole time we've been in business, and we've survived. But I don't - you know, some people won't. This is going to be tough. Some people have - in our industry have much higher concentrations of automotive. We're about half. So we have some other items to offset that. But one great thing about us is we're employee owned, so all of our employees own our company. That's how we, you know, deal with making sure we have equity between all of our employees.

INSKEEP: Meaning you're not a union shop?

OLSON: We are not a union shop. Like I said, we are an ESOP. We're employee owned. And so everybody that collects a paycheck, after a year has shares in our company.

INSKEEP: Do you have some employees, though, looking at the UAW demands and saying, wait a minute - we would also like a four-day workweek?

OLSON: Yes. I'm sure we do have people saying that 'cause we would all like a four-day work week. But actually, our employees work four days a week, 10 hours a day.

INSKEEP: Oh. So they - wait - so they already work a four-day week where you are. OK. Makes sense. Todd Olson is the CEO of Twin City Die Castings in Minneapolis. Pleasure talking with you, sir.

OLSON: All right. Thank you, Steve. You have a good day.

INSKEEP: You, too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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