Updated Oct 11, 2023 - Economy

Workers walk out of Ford's most profitable plant as UAW expands strike

 UAW President Shawn Fain greets members attending a rally in support of the labor union strike at the UAW Local 551 hall on the South Side on October 7, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

UAW president Shawn Fain greets members attending a rally in support of the labor union strike at the UAW Local 551 hall on the South Side on Oct. 7, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

The United Auto Workers union expanded its strike action against Detroit Three automakers on Wednesday to include 8,700 members at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant in a move the car giant denounced as "grossly irresponsible."

Why it matters: The union said in an online post that the surprise move marked a "new phase" in its action against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis as the strike nears its fourth week. Previous strike expansions "occurred at a deadline set in advance by the union," per the UAW.

A screenshot of a United Auto Workers union tweet, saying: "UAW members just walked off the job, shutting down Ford’s iconic and extremely profitable Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.  “We have been crystal clear, and we have waited long enough, but Ford has not gotten the message,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.  #StandUpUAW"
Photo: UAW/X
  • The plant is Ford's most profitable, with $25 billion in annual revenue or roughly one sixth of the firm's automotive revenue worldwide, Reuters notes.

What they're saying: "It's time for a fair contract at Ford and the rest of the Big Three," UAW president Shawn Fain said in a statement.

  • "If they can't understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it."

The other side: A spokesperson for Ford said the action was "unsurprising given the union leadership's stated strategy of keeping the Detroit 3 wounded for months through 'reputational damage' and 'industrial chaos.'"

  • He continued that Ford had made "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" in the world.
  • "In addition to our offer on pay and benefits, Ford has been bargaining in good faith this week on joint venture battery plants, which are slated to begin production in the coming year," the spokesperson said. "The UAW leadership's decision to reject this record contract offer – which the UAW has publicly described as the best offer on the table – and strike Kentucky Truck Plant, carries serious consequences for our workforce, suppliers, dealers and commercial customers," he added.
  • "This decision by the UAW is all the more wrongheaded given that Ford is the only automaker to add UAW jobs since the Great Recession and assemble all of its full-size trucks in America."

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional comment from UAW president Shawn Fain and further context.

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