MT. STERLING, Ky. (FOX 56) – As the nation is closely watching the railroad industry to see if it will go on strike in the coming weeks, many businesses in Kentucky are trying to prepare to offset the issues it will cause.
In Mt. Sterling, automotive stamping company “Big Rapids Products” said it would feel direct impacts because its customers frequently use the rail systems.
Ben Herbst, the director of facilities at Big Rapids Products said, “Our raw materials or steel suppliers use rail for incoming product and outgoing product. So, the rail is the best way to transport the rails and to keep the production up.”
Herbst added the business sends daily shipments of finished F-150 frames to Elizabethtown, Michigan, and Kansas City.
He details that by truck, only six frames can fit at a time, but by train, about 20 frames fit on each rail car.
Aside from supply chain issues, the railroad strike will also cause employment issues in manufacturing and production across the nation.
“Immediately our releases would reduce, and then we would have nothing to run. No product to ship to our customers, and our employees would have no work to do,” Herbst said.
Jason Rainey with The Mt. Sterling Montgomery County Industrial Authority said Kentucky’s workforce participation rate now sits at 57%, but that could change with the strike if workers get laid off or decide to transition out of their current roles.
“The thing with Kentucky across the whole state is we’re very much manufacturing heavy in our workforce and the GDP that’s happening within the state,” Rainey said.
On a broader scale, Rainey sees the railroad strike hitting Kentucky’s automotive industry hard.
“Especially here in Mt. Sterling,” Rainey said. “Our local Chevy dealer continuing to look at how do we get more new vehicles on the lot to meet the demand.”
As manufacturers start to plan to mitigate supply chain risks, Rainey advised them to continue to embrace “just in time” inventory in production.
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“So, continuing to lean into those best practices around manufacturing I think is going to help folks stay lean on their orders and demand until they run into that supply issue,” Rainey said.
As of now, CNN is reporting the four unions who voted against the labor agreements are set to go on strike at midnight on Dec. 9.