Ford executives warned that the union’s decision late Wednesday to walk off the job at a truck and SUV plant in Louisville could lead to thousands of layoffs at suppliers and other factories that depend on it.
The Louisville walkout, involving about 8,700 workers at the largest factory run by Ford, escalated a strike that began almost a month ago against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The strike now involves about 22 percent of the UAW’s 150,000 workers at those companies.
The UAW said it took the step because Ford “refused to make further movement” in contract bargaining for better wages, benefits and job security.
“We’re open to moving some money around within the deal that might fit the union’s needs better,” but can’t increase the overall financial value without hurting Ford’s ability to invest in its future business, Galhotra said Thursday.
He and other Ford executives on the call stressed that the company is still trying to reach a deal and is continuing to look for “creative solutions” to meet the union’s needs on retirement security and the future of the company’s battery plants for electric vehicles.
The Louisville factory produces trucks and SUVs that bring in about $25 billion in annual revenue, or roughly one-sixth of the company’s global total. The Kentucky plant builds the company’s profitable F-series Super Duty trucks, as well as the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
“We have been crystal clear, and we have waited long enough, but Ford has not gotten the message,” UAW president Shawn Fain said in a statement Wednesday evening. “It’s time for a fair contract at Ford and the rest of the Big Three. If they can’t understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it.”
Ford calls its current proposal to the union, including a 23 percent wage increase over four years and the restoration of regular cost-of-living adjustments to wages, an “outstanding offer that would make a meaningful, positive difference in the quality of life for our 57,000 UAW-represented workers, who are already among the best compensated hourly manufacturing workers anywhere in the world.”
A UAW official on Wednesday said that Ford has been promising the union better terms on factors such as wages and retirement savings for weeks, but failed to produce them in a meeting Wednesday. Galhotra said Thursday he was surprised to hear that, saying that the company has been “very clear that we are at the limit.”