Detroit Regional Chamber > Media Coverage > After Surprise Walkout at Ford’s Kentucky Plant, Fain Warns UAW Strike Could Expand ‘At Any Time’

After Surprise Walkout at Ford’s Kentucky Plant, Fain Warns UAW Strike Could Expand ‘At Any Time’

October 13, 2023

Oct. 13, 2o23
Russ McNamara and Alex McLenon

UAW President Shawn Fain announced Friday the union would not expand its strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers, warning that union members should be ready to walk off the job at any time.

The announcement came just a few days after UAW leaders called for a walk-out at Ford Motor Company’s Kentucky Truck Plant — the company’s largest plant and one of the largest auto factories in the world — citing a lack of progress towards a new union contract.

Officials with the automaker are disputing that claim, however, stating the company has been fair in negotiations and is already at the limit of what it can offer.

“Our employees already have some of the best health care in the world period,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s gasoline-powered vehicle division. “I think it’s top 1% kind of health care available in this country. We contribute very substantially to their 401Ks.”

Fain said after talks broke down with Ford, it was an easy decision to strike.

“They admitted that Kentucky truck generates 25 billion in revenue a year — that’s $48,000 a minute,” he said. “Our labor at Kentucky truck generates more revenue each minute than thousands of our members make in a year.”

Prior to this week, the union had only called for strike actions on Fridays, but Fain says when it came to making the call to strike the truck plant, it could not wait until Friday.

“Moving forward we will be calling out plants when we need to, where we need to, with little notice,” said Fain. “So stay ready, not just Fridays and not just Ford.”

As of today, about 34,000 UAW workers remain on strike.

Sandy K. Baruah, President and Chief Executive Officer of Detroit Regional Chamber, says those jarring numbers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the strikes will affect Michigan’s economy.

“The surprise shutdown of Ford’s largest factory this week has dealt another blow to the state’s economy and the hundreds of Michigan-based suppliers connected to that facility,” Baruah said. “The longer these shutdowns continue, and we go without a resolution, the more rapid and irreparable the economic damage to Michigan becomes.”