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The UAW’s strikes expanded twice so far this week, with work stoppages beginning at Volvo-owned Mack Trucks and expanding to Ford’s massive Kentucky plant – responsible for a sixth of the company’s annual revenue. Strikes could grow even further on Friday with an update on negotiations due from UAW President Shawn Fain. Though the UAW is nearly a month into striking, with 34,000 Big Three workers now on the picket line, this scale of action could continue for many weeks more or expand drastically from here.

The future of the Big Three’s battery plants remains a major sticking point in negotiations. The UAW wants these facilities covered by the “master contract” that they’ll eventually reach with automakers, but this would likely lead to significant increases in the cost basis for Ford, GM, and Stellantis EVs. As it stands, these mainstay automakers already struggle to compete with much lower labor costs among EV competitors like Tesla.

Related Stocks: Ford Motor Company (F), General Motors Company (GM), Stellantis N.V. (STLA)

In a surprise move, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union expanded their strike action against Ford yesterday evening, now picketing the automaker’s Kentucky Truck Plant, where Super Duty pickups as well as the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator SUVs are produced. This is a significant escalation, as Ford’s Kentucky truck plant is the company’s single largest and most profitable operation, generating $25 billion in annual revenue, or about a sixth of the company’s global automotive revenue. That will see another 8,700 UAW members walk off the job, bringing the total amount of workers on strike at Detroit’s “Big Three” to 34,000 – equivalent to roughly 22.7% of the UAW’s 150,000 members.

Strikes have been ongoing for nearly a month now, beginning on September 14. In just the first two weeks of UAW work stoppages, a total of nearly $4 billion in economic losses were racked up. Declines in new vehicle output, as well as sales, are significant for the economy, as auto production is the largest American manufacturing segment and responsible for 3.0% of GDP.  Ford, GM, and Chrysler (owned by Stellantis), known as Detroit’s ‘Big Three”, are countering work stoppages by laying off and furloughing upwards of 5,000 workers and draining inventories.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis pegged domestic auto inventories at roughly 181,000 units in August. That’s up more than…

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