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Kokomo braces for potential Stellantis layoffs

Kokomo residents brace for layoffs – News 8 at 6

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Kokomo residents on Thursday said they’re trying not to let the threat of hundreds of layoffs at two Stellantis plants bother them.

Stellantis, Chrysler’s parent company, announced this week it expects to lay off 300 workers at its Kokomo transmission and Kokomo casting plants in response to the ongoing United Auto Workers strike. The company has not yet said when the layoffs might happen, although an UAW announcement is expected Friday morning.

Adam Street said any layoffs could hit him from two directions. His wife works at one of the plants, and many of the customers at the barbershop where he works are Stellantis employees. He said he and his wife have savings they can use in the event of layoffs, and most of his clientele will continue to come to the barbershop. If layoffs go for too long, however, he said, he expects the affected employees will start cutting nonessential expenses first. That will impact businesses like his.

“If you have to make a decision between getting a haircut and taking care of your family and paying your bills when your pay’s been cut to a quarter of what it normally is,” he said, “the average man’s going to pick taking care of his family and paying their bills.”

Street and others in Kokomo said they’re following news surrounding the UAW strike closely but they’re trying not to let the threat of layoffs bother them. Eddie Bethea, who has lived in Kokomo since 1961 and owns a karate dojo, said the city of 59,600 has been through enough layoffs, strikes and downturns people know what to expect.

“First, there will be a downflow, and then, all of a sudden, we’ll start getting an inflow,” he said. “We’ve always had to brave the storm and we’ve seen them leave and we’ve seen them come back.”

Street said he and his family are taking a similar attitude.

“I don’t stress it too much because I don’t have any control over it and there’s no point in stressing out over something I have no control over,” he said.

The UAW has threatened to expand the strike if talks don’t yield significant progress by noon Eastern time Friday.