The strike took effect at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 11 at the truck plant that produces Ford Super Duty pickups. It also produces the automaker's Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. The facility, which is Ford's largest in terms of employment and revenue, employs 8,700 UAW members.
The strike at the plant marks a major escalation in the UAW's targeted strikes. Additionally, it indicates a shift in strategy in the union's expanded strikes. For previous work strikes, UAW President Shawn Fain has publicly announced the targets before the work stoppages took place.
According to a Ford source, UAW informed the company early on Oct. 11 afternoon that it wanted a new economic counteroffer by 5 p.m. ET, with a meeting request for 5:30 p.m. (ET) with the UAW’s entire Ford bargaining committee, which includes Fain and UAW Vice President Chuck Browning.
The Ford source, who only agreed to speak anonymously because the talks were private, added that the meeting only lasted less than 10 minutes before Fain declared that the company had "lost Kentucky Truck."
In a release, UAW announced that it launched the strike "after Ford refused to make further movement in bargaining."
According to a UAW source with information about the talks, Ford did not add any additional cash to its proposed deal. The source also said that UAW was expecting Ford to enhance its prior economic offer. (Related: Amazon delivery drivers stage first-ever WALKOUT as part of strike.)
Ford claimed that the UAW's decision to call a strike at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant is "grossly irresponsible but unsurprising given the union leadership's stated strategy of keeping the Detroit Three wounded for months through 'reputational damage' and 'industrial chaos.'"
The latter part of the statement pertains to private messages that were leaked last September.
According to the messages, UAW Communications Director Jonah Furman said the union's public posturing of issues and targeted strikes was causing "recurring reputation damage and operational chaos" to the automakers. The companies insist that the messages and the union's actions prove that UAW negotiators never wanted to finalize a deal with the Detroit automakers.
In a statement, Fain said the union has been transparent and patient, yet "Ford has not gotten the message." Fain added that workers deserve "a fair contract at Ford and the rest of the Big Three."
If Ford and the rest fail to understand that after four weeks, "the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it," warned Fain.
Ford countered that the recent strike puts at risk at least a dozen additional operations at the automaker and more supplier operations that, combined, employ more than 100,000 individuals. Ford also claimed that it had presented an "outstanding offer" and was bargaining in good faith "on joint venture battery plants," which were a recent focus of the talks.
Early in October, General Motors (GM) agreed to include workers at its electric vehicle battery plant in the company’s national contract with the union, which Fain described as a "transformative win." Fain added that the union expects Chrysler parent Stellantis and Ford to follow suit soon, including battery plant workers in eventual contract agreements.
The UAW has been gradually increasing the strikes since the work stoppages started after the sides failed to reach tentative agreements on Sept 14.
The additional workers bring UAW's total to an estimated 34,000 U.S. workers, or at least 23 percent of UAW members covered by the expired contracts with the Detroit automakers, who are currently on strike.
Meanwhile, a senior Ford executive warned that the automaker is "at the limit" of what it can spend on higher wages and benefits for the UAW, adding that the union's strike at the company's most profitable factory could harm workers and cut profits.
Kumar Galhotra, head of Ford's combustion vehicle unit, warned that the company has been very clear that it is "at the limit" and that continuing on this trajectory will further hurt Ford's "ability to invest in the business."
Ford is willing to discuss the reallocation of money within its current offer in further bargaining with the union to reach an agreement, added Galhotra.
The standoff between the UAW and Ford could soon affect thousands of workers who are not among the nearly 34,000 Detroit Three workers Fain has instructed to walk off the job since Sept. 15.
Fain explained that he aims to keep the automakers off-balance by taking targeted action rather than a full strike.
The Detroit automakers will report third-quarter financial results between Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. The UAW could use what are slated to be robust profits to push their case for a better contract.
Bryce Currie, Ford manufacturing vice president, said at least 4,600 Ford workers could be idled because their jobs depend on the production of Super Duty pickups and large Lincoln and Ford SUVs at the Kentucky Truck Plant.
Meanwhile, 13,000 workers at Ford suppliers have already been furloughed because of earlier UAW walkouts at two Ford assembly plants, said Ford supply chain chief Liz Door.
Door added that the shutdown of Kentucky Truck, the automaker's largest factory, could push a fragile supply chain "toward collapse."
Fain and other UAW officials claimed that Ford, General Motors and Stellantis can afford to increase pay for UAW workers beyond the previous 20 to 23 percent that they have offered, end lower-wage tiers for lower seniority and temporary workers and restore defined benefit pensions lost in 2007 if they rein in share buybacks and slash excessive executive pay.
Watch the video below for more on the UAW's strike at the Ford Truck Plant.
This video is from the InfoWarSSideBand channel on Brighteon.com.