News Story

Prolonged UAW strike will ‘collapse’ supply chains, Ford chair warns

Strike at Kentucky Truck Plant could have ripples throughout economy, Ford said

Ford Motor Co. chairman Bill Ford said Monday that the company’s supply base “will start collapsing” with a prolonged strike by the United Auto Workers union.

The UAW’s targeted, facility-by-facility “stand up” strike started a month ago, on Sept. 15. It has continued to expand ever since, and last week the 8,700 UAW members at the Kentucky Truck Plant walked off the job. That plant builds some of Ford’s most popular trucks and SUVs, and its products generate $25 billion in revenue annually.

Bill Ford spoke for about 10 minutes from Ford’s Rouge plant in Dearborn, where the company is headquartered.

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“A strong manufacturing base is critical to our national security,” Ford said “Building things in America matters now more than ever, especially in these uncertain times. And we can't take that for granted.”

Ford expressed disappointment at the tenor of negotiations with the UAW. A UAW official sent messages on company channels urging “reputation damage” would come to automakers too slow to negotiate, as reported by The Detroit News. When workers at the Kentucky Truck Plant joined the strike last week, Ford mentioned those statements.

“This should not be Ford versus the UAW,” Ford said. “This should be Ford and the UAW versus Toyota, Honda, Tesla, and all the Chinese companies that want to enter our home market. Toyota, Honda, Tesla and the others are loving this strike because they know the longer it goes on, the better it is for them. They will win and all of us will lose.”

UAW President Shawn Fain disagreed with Ford’s framing.

“It’s not the UAW and Ford against foreign automakers,” Fain said, in remarks published by Detroit News reporter Jordan Grzelewski. “It’s autoworkers everywhere against corporate greed.”

Ford warned that an extended strike would challenge supply chains not only at the automaker, but throughout the economy.

“Shutting down that plant harms tens of thousands of Americans right away,” Ford said of the Kentucky plant. “Workers, suppliers and dealers alike. It hurts the communities that depend on these local economies. If it continues, it will have a major impact on the American economy and devastate local communities. The supply base is very fragile, and will start collapsing with an expanded strike. But it doesn't have to go that way.”

Fain said his goal is to expand the union’s membership base.

“Workers at Tesla, Toyota, Honda and others are not the enemy — they’re the UAW members of the future,” Fain said.

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.