Ford Motor Co. became the latest strike target for the United Auto Workers after members walked out of its largest plant, a highly profitable pickup factory in Kentucky.
(Bloomberg) — Ford Motor Co. became the latest strike target for the United Auto Workers after members walked out of its largest plant, a highly profitable pickup factory in Kentucky.
In a surprise move, the union on Wednesday evening announced a walkout by 8,700 workers at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in a post on social media. The plant generates $25 billion a year in revenue, making the higher-priced Super Duty version of the F-Series pickup as well as Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition large sport-utility vehicles.
The timing of the union’s move breaks with prior expansions of the 27-day-old strike, which have been announced in scheduled briefings on Fridays by UAW President Shawn Fain. The union said in an emailed statement that the strike against the Kentucky plant “was called after Ford refused to make further movement in bargaining.”
The union requested a new economic offer from Ford after talks this week had centered on future workers at battery plants and improving retirement security, according to a company official familiar with bargaining who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Ford last week proposed a 23% raise, which Fain on Oct. 6 said was the “top offer” that the UAW had received from Ford, General Motors Co. or Stellantis NV.
When Ford failed to go higher in a 5 p.m. meeting Wednesday, Fain stood up and said: “If there’s not a better offer, then you just lost KTP,” according to the company official.
The Kentucky Truck Plant is one of the largest auto factories in the world, according to Ford. In an emailed statement after the strike was called, the company called the union’s decision “grossly irresponsible” and said it poses “serious consequences for our workforce, suppliers, dealers and commercial customers.”
“This work stoppage will generate painful aftershocks — including putting at risk approximately a dozen additional Ford operations and many more supplier operations that together employ well over 100,000 people,” the company said in its statement.
This is the UAW’s boldest move yet since the strike against Detroit’s three legacy automakers began Sept. 15. The Ford workers in Kentucky join about 25,000 other UAW members who had already walked out of five assembly plants and 38 parts-distribution facilities. Fain is taking an unprecedented approach to contract negotiations and has been raising pressure on the automakers by threatening to expand the strike to new plants each week if talks aren’t moving forward.
Ford shares fell 1.4% in late trading. The stock had seen steep declines since July amid uncertainty about the negotiations.
–With assistance from David Welch.
(Updates with details of how the strike decision was reached beginning in the fourth paragraph.)
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