The UAW is currently engaged in a strike against the Big Three automakers in the United States – Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Stellantis – over fair pay and benefits. (Related: United Auto Workers union goes on strike against Big Three automakers – another sign that Bidenomics is a costly failure.)
Following a breakdown in recent negotiations with Ford, UAW President Shawn Fain publicly announced the addition of Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant to the list of auto factories that are participating in the strike.
The Kentucky Truck Plant is where Ford primarily produced some of its best-selling SUVs and pickup trucks, including the Ford Super Duty pickups, the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator SUVs.
The facility employs approximately 8,700 UAW members. Their participation brings the total number of UAW members on strike to about 34,000, or roughly 23 percent of all UAW members covered by the expired contracts with the Big Three.
The walkout from the Kentucky Truck Plant was announced immediately on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 11, following a short meeting between UAW's entire bargaining committee and Ford.
According to sources with knowledge of the meeting, the UAW informed Ford that it wanted to hear a new, full counteroffer on economics by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, then called for a 5:30 p.m. meeting at Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
When the UAW's bargaining committee arrived at the meeting, Ford informed the UAW that it did not have a full counteroffer on economics.
Upon hearing this, Fain reportedly stood up and told Ford: "If this is all you have for us, our members' lives and my handshake are worth more than this. You just lost Kentucky Truck Plant." The meeting adjourned after less than 10 minutes. The strike expansion was called immediately after.
A source who spoke with Automotive News reported that Ford did not have a counteroffer because its most recent proposal shared with the UAW the week before was at or near the limit of what the company supposedly could offer economically. Ford reportedly went to the meeting expecting to continue negotiating with the UAW on other unresolved matters.
"We have been crystal clear, and we have waited long enough, but Ford has not gotten the message," said Fain in a statement. "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."
The strike at one of Ford's largest and most lucrative factories marks a major escalation in the UAW's strike, which Fain warned is ready to expand to even more factories if the Big Three automakers continue to refuse to negotiate in good faith.
"We're entering a new phase of this fight, and it demands a new approach," said Fain during a live stream on Friday, Oct. 13. "We're done waiting until Fridays to escalate our strike. Today, we're not announcing an expansion of our strike, but we are prepared at any time to call on more locals to stand up and walk out."
Speaking of the union's sudden decision to call a strike at the Kentucky Truck Plant, Fain claimed that the plant generates $48,000 in revenue per minute for Ford, and that the union's decision to call a walkout shows that they are "not messing around, and negotiation requires both sides making movement."
"If they're not ready to move, then we're going to give them a push in a language they understand – dollars and cents," he said.
Watch this clip from CBS News reporting on the UAW's decision to expand its strike to the Ford Kentucky Truck plant.