After the United Auto Workers expanded its strike against Ford Motor Co. on Friday, the automaker warned that hundreds of thousands of employees’ jobs could be at stake if the work stoppage goes on for too long.
The union launched its simultaneous but limited strike against Detroit’s Big Three two weeks ago, starting with a Ford plant in Michigan, a General Motors plant in Missouri and a Stellantis plant in Ohio.
In the UAW’s second round of strike targets on Sept. 22, Ford was spared while union leadership, led by President Shawn Fain, told members to walk off the job at 38 parts distribution facilities for GM and Stellantis.
But the union targeted Ford again in its latest expansion, announcing the shutdown of the automaker’s Chicago assembly plant along with GM’s assembly facility in Lansing, Michigan.
Following the escalation, Ford executives held a media briefing Friday afternoon where CEO Jim Farley said there was still time to make a contract deal that would “avert a real disaster, but not much more time, given the fragility of the supply base of all the companies.”
The executives were asked about the costs Ford is sustaining from the ongoing strike and a timeline for when they may become unsustainable. The company did not offer specifics on dollar amounts, but it said that with two assembly plants now down, the impact on the business would be “substantial.”
Then chief supply chain officer Liz Door provided the company’s projections on how the strike could impact jobs.
“Our concern really is the resilience of the supply chain, particularly as we are healing post-COVID,” Door said. “You heard Jim speak about the fact that the supplier ecosystem for Michigan assembly plant is at risk. We understand today there’s about 2,400 supplier employees that have been laid off. But as a consequence of the actions today, we see this two-week inflection point.”
“We have roughly 125,000 supplier employees that support our Michigan assembly plant,” Door said. “And if prolonged, this really could have a significant impact as it expands into our other Ford factories. We see anywhere between 325,000 to 500,000 employees that could be laid off.”