UAW's surprise strike at Ford's Kentucky Truck plant to impact over 100,000 people, rankle supply chain

A day after the UAW's surprise strike expansion against Ford when it announced it would be targeting one of the automaker's most important assembly plants in the country, executives warned the aftershocks would be far-reaching.

Around 100,000 people could be impacted in the broader economy due to Kentucky Truck shutting down. The assembly plant makes some of the company's most important vehicles like the F-150 Super Duty, Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators. 

"It's one of the most important manufacturing plants of any kind in America," said Ford Blue President Kumar Galhotra. "We're talking about the F-series."

The plant supports $12 billion in state GDP for Kentucky, produces a new vehicle every 37 seconds, and the strike targeting it will hurt customers who want to purchase the vehicles, workers that make it, suppliers that help feed the facility, and dealers that sell the F-150 pickup truck.

The unexpected move by the UAW came during negotiations Wednesday. The two parties were bargaining over pensions and battery plants when the UAW President Shawn Fain announced the escalation. 

During a Thursday news briefing, Ford department heads said they were surprised by the UAW's move and claimed it could take weeks to get the plant up and running once shut down since it's fed by smaller parts and components facilities around the region. 

Liz Door, Ford's chief supply chain officer said it threatened 13,000 layoffs at those suppliers, in addition to the 8,700 plant workers employed at the Kentucky assembly plant. "The fragile supply chain will be nudged further toward breaking down," she said.


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The surprise move will likely influence negotiations between the UAW and General Motors and Stellantis, two automakers that have managed to avoid any new strikes over the past two weeks. 

Last week, the UAW celebrated a last-minute break-through with GM regarding working the company's future battery plants into the union's National Master Agreement. Ford declined to say whether the deal could serve as a template between it and the UAW for its own battery plants.

The facilities have yet to be built and workers haven't been hired to work at the plants. Furthermore, because the facilities are joint ventures with other foreign companies, there are legal questions as to the nature of the UAW's work at those plants.

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Another sticking point for the UAW has been wage increases. Ford's latest offer includes a 23% boost to work pay. Its executives said they had pretty much reached their ceiling on money it can offer workers before its ability to invest is impacted.