The United Auto Workers union has further escalated its strike action by ordering its members to down tools at Ford’s largest plant.
Late Wednesday night, 8,700 UAW union workers went on strike at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, which builds several popular vehicles for the company, including its heavy-duty version of their F Series pickup and SUVs.
“We have been crystal clear, and we have waited long enough, but Ford has not gotten the message,” explained UAW President Shawn Fain. “It’s time for a fair contract at Ford and the rest of the Big Three. If they can’t understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it.”
A Ford official told the press the UAW had called a negotiation session with Ford for Wednesday evening and said the union wanted a better offer from Ford. Ford officials claim that Fain told company officials after minutes of discussions, “If that’s all you got, you just lost KTP,” and ended the meeting.
A union source corroborated the story but said Fain told Ford officials, “If this is all you have for us, our members’ lives and my handshake are worth more than this. This just cost you Kentucky Truck Plant.”
The union has said they would take Ford’s latest offer under advisement. Still, it was the same proposal the company had given to the union weeks earlier, despite Ford telling the UAW it would make an improved economic offer.
Kentucky Plant Strike Could Cost Ford Billions
UAW has been on strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, since September 15.
Although it is not the first time the strike has been extended to cover additional facilities, this is the first time a new facility has been added to the strike action with no prior public warning.
By striking at the Kentucky Truck Plant, the union is planning to hit Ford right in the pocketbook as the vehicles produced bring in about $25 billion in annual revenue for the company, about a sixth of its overall revenue.
Before Wednesday, UAW’s strikes at Ford had been at a Wayne, Michigan plant that builds the Ford Bronco Ranger and Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant that makes Ford Expedition and Lincoln Aviator SUVs. While all these are profitable vehicles, they pale compared to the cash the company earns from its heavy-duty and full-size pickups.
Ford said it believes the economic terms of their offer, including wages and benefits, are the best made by any of the three automakers thus far.
In a statement, Ford said: “The UAW leadership’s decision to reject this record contract offer – which the UAW has publicly described as the best offer on the table – and strike Kentucky Truck Plant carries serious consequences for our workforce, suppliers, dealers, and commercial customers.”
The company also claimed that shutting the Kentucky Truck Plant put at least a dozen additional Ford operations and many more suppliers that employ over 100,000 people at risk.
Hope That Strikes Will End at GM Soon
It was hoped that the strikes might end at GM after Fain declined to expand strike action on Friday and told union members that GM had agreed to a key union demand to include union workers at a joint venture battery plant the company has opened. At others, the company is planning.
The union is concerned that automakers’ plans to move from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles in coming years will shift jobs away from union-represented engine and transmission plants to non-unionized battery factories.
Ford said that for most of this week’s negotiations, the company and UAW have focused on the company’s joint venture battery plants and retirement benefits and that progress had been made before Wednesday’s brief negotiating session.