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UAW Members Turn to Loans Created for Workers on Strike

By Kelly Vaughen

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    STERLING HEIGHTS, Michigan (WWJ) — Some striking United Auto Workers members are feeling the financial strain of weeks without work. For those who can’t get by on the $500-a-week strike pay, many are turning to loans specifically made for striking workers.

Many on the picket line at Stellantis’ Sterling Heights Assembly Plant said they knew that they would have to cope with less money during the strike and prepared for that.

While on strike, the union pays members $100 each day, Monday through Friday, or $500 a week.

“[That’s] right before taxes,” said UAW member Darryl Rollins.

Rollins says the strike is worth it, but it can be hard to get by.

“Because when you’re talking about $500, and you’re used to making double that, bringing home double that, that makes it kind of hard. Because the bills you have to pay, they’re really not concerned about you being on strike,” he said.

UAW member Sheushea Anderson said there has been talk among workers about whether their strike pay could be raised.

“Somebody was speculating, trying to do some type of increase. Me, I wouldn’t be against it. But whatever they do, I’m fine with. Because I prepared for $500, they’ve been telling us for the longest, and that’s what I prepared myself for,” Anderson said.

The UAW said raising strike pay would be complicated, as the rate is set by delegates at their convention through an extensive process.

For those who can’t get by on $500 a week, many are turning to loans.

“With inflation, and groceries were already high before the strike. So, they need help, and we want to be able to help them,” said Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, the chief marketing and diversity officer for LAFCU Credit Union.

LAFCU is one of the credit unions across Michigan offering loans specifically for striking UAW workers.

The credit union was started by Oldsmobile almost 90 years ago.

“So we’re very, very well versed in things that happen in the automotive, and so many, many years ago, we developed a strike loan,” Ellsworth Etchison said.

She says they’ve done about 96 UAW loans so far, totaling $282,500.

And that number may grow as we get closer to the holiday season.

“We want them to use it for the necessities, but people are free to use it however they need to use it to get by,” she said.

Loans can be up to $4,000, though the average is around $3,000.

The interest rate on the strike loans is 8.99%

“This is an unsecured loan. We’re not asking it to be collateralized by a car, or that they need to do a home equity loan to borrow. This is lower than a personal loan rate right now,” Ellsworth Etchison said.

She says the approval process is similar to other loans, and regular underwriting rules apply.

“We want to see proof of employment, that they were at one of the impacted facilities,” she said.

Those who have been laid off because of the strike may also qualify for their loans as well. The first payment on the loan isn’t due for 60 days, and borrowers can take up to three years for repayment.

LAFCU also offers strikers budgeting assistance, help with other credit issues, as well as the option to skip a monthly payment.

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