UAW strikes escalate as 8,700 Ford workers walk out at Kentucky truck plant

attends a UAW rally outside Ford's truck plant in Louisville (

attends a UAW rally outside Ford’s truck plant in Louisville (

United Auto Workers Union expands strikes to Ford’s largest and most profitable plant

Detroit’s Three automakers faced a significant escalation of strikes by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union when approximately 8,700 workers staged a walkout at Ford’s Kentucky truck plant. This surprising move, which occurred around 6:30 p.m., resulted in the shutdown of the world’s largest and most profitable Ford plant, known for producing heavy-duty F-Series pickup trucks and large Ford and Lincoln SUVs.

UAW President Shawn Fain expressed the union’s growing impatience, stating that they have waited long enough, but Ford has yet to engage in meaningful negotiations for a fair contract. Fain emphasized that after four weeks, the walkout at this highly profitable plant, involving 8,700 workers, serves as a clear message to Ford.

This strike came nearly four weeks after the union initially initiated walkouts against General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, the maker of Jeep, on September 15. In this initial phase, the strikes targeted one assembly plant from each of the three companies.

Ford responded to the expansion of the strike, referring to it as “grossly irresponsible.” The company pointed to UAW leadership’s stated intention to create “industrial chaos” within Detroit’s automakers.

A meeting took place at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where Fain inquired about the possibility of a new offer from the company. High-ranking Ford executives conveyed that they were considering bringing electric vehicle battery plants under the UAW national contract, making them part of the union. However, the economic offer presented by the company did not substantially differ from previous proposals, which Fain was informed about. In response, Fain stated that if the company’s offer remained unchanged, “You just lost the Kentucky Truck Plant.”

The UAW expanded its strikes on September 22, including 38 GM and Stellantis parts warehouses. Assembly plants from Ford and GM were added to the strikes in the following week. So far, approximately 25,000 workers have participated in walkouts at the three automakers.

The union’s strategy has involved targeting a limited number of plants from each company rather than initiating a strike involving all 146,000 UAW members working at the automakers simultaneously.

A point of contention in the negotiations has been the role of battery plants in the transition to electric vehicles. The UAW seeks to ensure that these plants become unionized, securing jobs and competitive wages for workers impacted by the automotive industry’s shift to electric vehicles.

The ongoing strikes have led to the temporary layoff of about 4,800 workers at factories not directly affected by the strikes. The automakers argue that these layoffs are a direct consequence of the strikes, impacting factories producing parts for assembly plants that were shut down due to strikes.

The UAW disputes this argument, asserting that the layoffs were unwarranted and imposed as part of the companies’ efforts to pressure UAW members into accepting less favorable terms during negotiations with automakers. The factories experiencing layoffs are located in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Indiana, and New York.

Analysts suggest that the strikes have caused financial losses for the automakers, leading to layoffs as a means of mitigating these losses. Smaller companies supplying parts to larger automakers may be particularly vulnerable during these strikes.

The strikes’ impact is not limited to the automakers but extends to the entire supply chain, potentially affecting the financial stability of smaller parts suppliers. Despite the challenges, the UAW remains committed to ensuring that workers affected by the strikes do not experience income loss.