As America muddles through a period of sustained inflation and economic teetering, one major problem is that companies are on their back foot financially because consumers have less money to spend, thanks both to the economic uncertainty and financial stress of inflation, but workers also are demanding higher wages because of those same issues.
Thus, workers rightly feel they need a higher wage to live the lives their jobs previously afforded them, before the inflation, but companies feel they can’t pay more because inflation is shrinking profit margins and a seemingly imminent recession makes spending yet more on labor seem like a poor financial decision.
Such is the situation American automaker Ford has found itself in, with the United Auto Workers union demanding much higher wages and a shorter workweek while Ford feels the need to find way to reduce costs dramatically, not spend yet more on less work from its unionized employees.
So, the two groups are at loggerheads, with the auto workers on strike over their demands for higher wages while Ford refuses to give in to their demands. The fight has drawn in political commentary from both sides, with both President Biden and former President Donald Trump appearing alongside the striking workers in an attempt to boost their “working class” support.
The fight has also entered a new and more painful phase for Ford and those hoping to buy a new car this year, however, as the striking auto workers just shut down Ford’s largest and most profitable American manufacturing plant.
That Plant is the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville Kentucky, from which UAW workers walked off on Wednesday, joining their fellow union members at 43 other American auto-manufacturing plants across the country in doing so. The plant from which they walked off the job makes the Ford Super Duty trucks, along with the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator.
Announcing the move in a Wednesday press statement, UAW said, “In an unannounced move, 8,700 UAW members walked off the job today at 6:30 p.m. ET, shutting down Ford Motor Company’s iconic and extremely profitable Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. The strike was called by UAW President Shawn Fain and Vice President Chuck Browning after Ford refused to make further movement in bargaining.”
Continuing, the statement added, “The surprise move marks a new phase in the UAW’s Stand Up Strike. Previous expansions of the strike occurred at a deadline set in advance by the union. The move comes one day before the four-week mark since contracts expired at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis.”
UAW President Shawn Fain, commenting on the matter, said, “We have been crystal clear, and we have waited long enough, but Ford has not gotten the message. 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.”
Watch Fain here:
Ford, for its part, said, “The decision by the UAW to call a strike at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant is grossly irresponsible but unsurprising given the union leadership’s stated strategy of keeping the Detroit 3 wounded for months through ‘reputational damage’ and ‘industrial chaos.’ Ford 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 anywhere in the world.”
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