Ford’s Kentucky Plant Faces Major Strike as 8,700 Auto Workers Withdraw

by Lucas Garcia
UAW strike Ford Kentucky

On Wednesday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union heightened its strike actions against the Detroit Three automakers, as a considerable number of 8,700 workers departed from their roles at Ford’s Kentucky truck facility.

This unexpected step around 6:30 p.m. paralyzed operations at Ford’s most significant and lucrative plant globally. This expansive manufacturing site produces the high-end heavy-duty F-Series pickup trucks along with large SUVs under the Ford and Lincoln brands.

UAW’s President, Shawn Fain, conveyed in an official announcement that the union’s patience has been exhausted, suggesting that Ford has yet to grasp the urgency to negotiate a just contract. “After four weeks, if they’re still not comprehending the message, halting this highly profitable plant with 8,700 workers should provide clarity,” remarked Fain.

The initiation of this strike comes approximately a month after UAW began its strike activities against General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis on September 15, targeting an assembly plant from each firm.

Reacting to the intensified strike actions, Ford labeled the move as “extremely imprudent.” The company highlighted that such actions align with the recent declarations by UAW leadership, insinuating a desire to disrupt Detroit automakers through “industrial upheaval.”

During a meeting at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, base, a senior executive from Ford mentioned that Shawn Fain queried about potential alternative offers. Ford’s top-tier executives hinted at potential integration of electric vehicle battery facilities within the UAW’s national agreement, paving the way for their unionization. However, the financial offer presented remained largely unchanged, the executive elaborated.

According to a UAW representative, Ford had previously suggested enhancing its financial proposition for two weeks. Yet, during Wednesday’s meeting, the company reiterated its previous offer. Following this, Fain, alongside Vice President Chuck Browning, initiated communications with local leaders, leading to the strike shortly after.

Marick Masters, a business academic at Wayne State University with expertise in labor matters, indicated that the heightened strike against Ford demonstrates Fain’s intent to exert more pressure. However, he noted that concessions have already been made by the automakers, including wage hikes.

Masters inferred that Fain might be gauging the extent of pressure needed before mobilizing all of Ford’s 57,000 members for a comprehensive strike. He remains skeptical about a swift resolution to the ongoing strikes, alluding to complex unresolved issues, including the union’s demands for definitive pensions and health coverage upon retirement for all workers.

By September 22, the UAW had broadened its strikes, incorporating 38 GM and Stellantis parts depots. Assembly facilities of Ford and GM were later included. Presently, the total number of striking workers across the three automakers has risen to 33,700.

Historically, during this strike, the UAW has strategically targeted select plants from each company, instead of mobilizing its entire 146,000 member workforce.

Recently, progress in discussions was reported by the union, following which GM consented to integrate electric vehicle battery factories within the central agreement, ensuring their unionization.

The contention around battery manufacturing facilities remains paramount in these negotiations. UAW aspires for these plants’ unionization to secure premier wages and job positions for workers, especially given the industry’s ongoing pivot to electric vehicles.

Since the strike’s commencement, about 4,800 workers from the three Detroit automakers have been let go from plants not impacted by the UAW strikes. These companies attribute the layoffs to the strikes, emphasizing that job reductions have predominantly transpired in plants producing parts for assembly facilities disrupted by strikes.

However, the UAW opposes this viewpoint, arguing these layoffs are unjust and are tactics by the companies to sway UAW members during negotiations. The impacted factories span six states: Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Indiana, and New York.

According to analyst Sam Fiorani from AutoForecast Solutions, the layoffs mirror the financial strains on automakers due to the strikes. He suggests that running plants at significantly reduced capacities isn’t economically viable.

Strikers are currently receiving $500 weekly from the union’s strike fund. Fiorani anticipates more layoffs at non-striking plants as the strikes expand.

Other companies producing parts for these automakers have potentially witnessed layoffs, though many might remain unreported, notes Patrick Anderson, the CEO of the Anderson Economic Group in Lansing, Michigan. A trade association survey revealed that 30% of its members have initiated layoffs, with over 60% anticipating such actions by mid-October.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about UAW strike Ford Kentucky

What instigated the intensified strike actions by UAW at Ford’s Kentucky facility?

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union decided to heighten its strike activities against the Detroit Three automakers due to the perceived lack of urgency on Ford’s part to negotiate a just contract, especially at the Kentucky truck facility, which is one of the most profitable Ford plants worldwide.

Which products are manufactured at Ford’s Kentucky truck facility?

The expansive Ford manufacturing site in Kentucky produces the high-end heavy-duty F-Series pickup trucks along with large SUVs under the Ford and Lincoln brands.

How did Ford respond to the UAW’s strike escalation?

Ford labeled the intensified strike actions as “extremely imprudent” and hinted that such actions align with recent declarations by UAW leadership, insinuating a desire to disrupt Detroit automakers through “industrial upheaval.”

What is the main contention in the ongoing UAW negotiations with automakers?

The central point of contention in the ongoing negotiations is related to electric vehicle battery manufacturing facilities. UAW wants these plants to be unionized to ensure premier wages and job positions for workers, given the automotive industry’s shift towards electric vehicles.

How many workers are currently on strike across the three major automakers?

As of the latest update, the total number of striking workers across the three automakers, namely General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, has risen to 33,700.

What has been the impact of the strike on the workforce?

Since the beginning of the strike, around 4,800 workers from the three Detroit automakers have been laid off from plants not directly impacted by the UAW strikes. The companies argue that the strikes are the primary reason for these layoffs.

Which states have factories affected by the layoffs?

The factories that have been affected by layoffs are located in six states: Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Indiana, and New York.

More about UAW strike Ford Kentucky

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Phil_K October 12, 2023 - 6:16 am

gotta say, i’m rooting for the workers here. everyone deserves fair wages and benefits, especially with companies making so much.

RonnieB October 12, 2023 - 8:46 am

Strikes like these remind us how interconnected everything is. if one plant goes down, it affects so many others. It’s like dominoes.

JennaTee October 12, 2023 - 4:08 pm

isn’t Ford one of the biggest companies out there? can’t believe they can’t sort this out. i mean, come on!

LaraVee October 12, 2023 - 7:30 pm

Strikes are always tricky. Hope they find a middle ground soon for the sake of all. and yeah, I’ve heard about the EV shift. Wondering how that’s gonna change things for everyone.

MikeD October 12, 2023 - 8:40 pm

wow, didn’t realize how big of an impact this strike was having. Goes to show how important negotiations are. kudos to the workers for standing up.

SamanthaQ October 13, 2023 - 4:52 am

I read about the EV transition…it’s the future, right? Wonder how this will all play out in the long run for workers and the industry.


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