News Story

After UAW strike, Ford promises equal and opposite reaction

2023 strike was a watershed moment, automaker says

Five months after the start of a strike that UAW President Shawn Fain said would cause reputational damage to Ford Motor Co., the Dearborn automaker’s future in Michigan appears shaky.

Last week at an auto conference in New York City, Ford CEO Jim Farley teased the someday arrival of a small, more affordable electric vehicle. But it’s not clear the opportunity to build it will come to Michigan, or anywhere in America.

“We have to think carefully about our (manufacturing) footprint,” Farley told the conference, as quoted by an Associated Press account.

“Our reliance on the UAW turned out to be we were the first truck plant to be shut down,” Farley added. “Really our relationship has changed. It's been a watershed moment for the company. Does this have business impact? Yes.”

Ford has more UAW members than any American automaker, at 57,000.

While Farley has described this as the “right kind of cost,” Ford also starts the year at a $7 billion cost disadvantage relative to its competitors.

During the strike, UAW President Fain pushed for a 32-hour workweek. Since the strike ended, Fain has spoken of the need for a general strike in America.

Meanwhile, Ford is thinking about the future of its labor force.

It’s a future where Michigan does not necessarily get the benefit of hometown loyalty. In 2021, Ford bypassed Michigan to create 11,000 new EV jobs in Kentucky and Tenneseee.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.