Days after the United Auto Workers union directed its members to strike at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford warned that the work stoppage will not only hurt the company and its employees, but the entire U.S. auto industry.
“If it continues, it will have a major impact on the American economy and devastate local communities,” said Ford. “The supply base is very fragile, and will start collapsing with an expanded strike.”
Ford's remarks were delivered at the automaker’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, and livestreamed on YouTube Monday morning. The walkout of roughly 8,700 workers last week was the largest since the strike began last month. On Friday, Ford announced additional temporary layoffs at six factories, impacting more than 550 workers, calling it a “consequence of the strike.”
Ford urged union leaders to come to an agreement, adding that a prolonged strike will impact both the UAW and Ford while helping its competitors.
“This should not be Ford versus the UAW,” said Ford. “It should be Ford and the UAW versus Toyota, Honda, Tesla and all the Chinese companies that want to enter our home market.”
“We can stop this now,” said Ford. “And I call on my great UAW colleagues, some of whom I've known for decades. Many are close personal friends. We need to come together to bring an end to this acrimonious round of talks.”
Ford’s Kentucky factory generates $25 billion in annual revenue and assembles the automaker’s Super Duty F-Series pickups, as well as the Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator SUVs.
Last week, Ford Chief Supply Chain Officer Liz Door said the Kentucky Truck Plant strike would result in more layoffs as the plant shutdown further disrupts the automaker’s supply chain.
“The ripple effects of the UAW strike are extending far beyond Ford,” said Door in a statement. “The work stoppage at Michigan Assembly Plant and Chicago Assembly Plant have forced more than 13,000 layoffs, so far at nearly 90 supplier sites. The fragile supply chain will be nudged further toward collapse with this strike at Kentucky Truck Plant.”
The UAW is demanding cost-of-living adjustments, more paid time off and the ability to strike against plant closures. It has also proposed ending tiered wages and benefits, including 90 days for members to reach the maximum wage rate, as well as restoring pensions and retiree healthcare.
But the UAW has rejected what Ford calls a “record contract” that the automaker says will make its UAW employees among the best paid manufacturing workers in the world. Ford made its latest offer to the UAW on Oct. 3 in an effort to reach a labor agreement through April 30, 2028. It includes pay raises of 20% upon ratification.
“Choosing the right path isn't just about Ford's future and our ability to to compete,” said Ford. “This is about the future of the American automobile industry.”