Washington goes on to give more specifics about the effect on African-Americans:
Since 2006, Chrysler, Ford and GM have announced that they will cut more than 75,000 mostly blue-collar jobs and shut almost two dozen plants. If automotive plants are no longer producing cars and trucks, then they don’t need parts, and that means their suppliers have to close plants and lay off workers too. This drain of automotive jobs has impacted Blacks more than other ethnic groups.
Interviews with several Black automotive assembly line plant workers who have taken buyouts or retired revealed four reasons other than the economy for their departure: bigotry, boredom, stress and a worsening work environment.
‘A lot of Blacks are leaving because of the racism,’ says Bill, a 30-year veteran at Ford who didn’t want his last name used. ‘White folks get breaks; Black folks are held to the letter of the [work rules] law.’
Chrysler, Ford and GM have traditionally been the leaders in purchasing parts from Black-owned suppliers. But as their market share has fallen, so has their production and the number of parts that they need. With this trio recently announcing the closure of plants that build pickup trucks and full-size sport-utilities, the number of parts they purchase from Black-owned suppliers will shrink.
Continuing to shift back and forth between the general and the particular, Ebony writes:
Bill Pickard is founder of the Global Automotive Alliance. One of his Detroit-area companies supplies plastic fuel delivery systems to automakers and employs 400 people. He summed up what’s at stake, saying:
‘We [Black-owned automotive suppliers] are the children of the ’60s,’ Pickard says. ‘There’s nobody behind us. If we go out of business, there’s no one to replace us. So we must survive in order to pass on our businesses either through inheritance or through a succession of ownership.’
Even worse, when minority suppliers disappear, they almost never return and other companies don’t rise to take their place, says Rainbow Push’s [Glenda] Gill. The same can be said of any area in the automotive industry in which Blacks have a presence.
This is the kind of article we need to see more often. It helps us understanding the big picture of the crisis by highlighting its effect on communities while showing how current economic forces are reshaping them.
For a historian’s take on blacks and the U.S. auto industry, take a look at this brief synopsis. These facts informed the Ebony article, and they should inform other reporting as well.