Ford has a new problem on its hands, as the UAW announced a surprise expansion to its strike against the automaker Wednesday.
As we near the one-month mark since the United Auto Workers union began its strike against the Big Three automakers, its leadership significantly escalated its “stand-up” strategy Wednesday night. Some 8,700 workers at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant walked off the job, disrupting operations for one of the company’s most significant and profitable assembly plants.
While the UAW has yet to strike against plants building the F-150, the Louisville, Kentucky truck facility does build the F-250 through F-550 Super Duty models, as well as the Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator. According to union president Shawn Fain, the escalation came after Ford “came to the table with the same offer they submitted to us two weeks ago.”
“It was an unacceptable move that triggered a strong and immediate response,” the UAW said in its statement. At 6:30 P.M. Wednesday night, UAW Local 862 workers walked off the job and onto the picket line. “We will keep increasing the pressure on Ford and all of the Big Three until we’ve won our fair share of the record profits we’ve made at Kentucky Truck and every Big three plant.
Ford called the UAW’s decision “grossly irresponsible, but not surprising” in its own statement, stating the union’s goal is to keep the Detroit Three “wounded for months through ‘reputational damage’ and ‘industrial chaos'”. The company went further, saying that the UAW itself publicly acknowledged Ford’s latest deal was the best offer on the table.
This latest walkout will likely have ripple effects for the Louisville truck plant’s suppliers and other Ford operations, which employ about 100,000 workers.
We could see another strike expansion on Friday.
While the union did not target GM or Stellantis in this latest move, it is a warning shot for those automakers to step up negotiations, or else the UAW may also strike those automakers’ most profitable plants. Last week, Fain commented that workers were ready to walk off the job at GM’s Arlington, Texas plant — the facility that build’s full-size SUVs including the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade — before a last-minute concession stopped the UAW striking the plant.
For its part, GM made an agreement to bring its battery plants into the union’s national agreement, effectively unionizing those plants moving forward. While it’s unclear exactly where Ford stands on that issue at the moment, that could be one reason Fain and UAW leadership asked Local 862 to walk off the job. Among the primary goals of this strike, too, are increases in worker pay over the next four years, better pension programs, an elimination of a tiered wage system and cost-of-living adjustments to protect workers against inflation.
At this moment, more than 30,000 UAW workers are striking the big three automakers.