UAW Dramatically Expands Strikes, Pulls 8,700 Off Ford’s Profit Engine

Walkout At Kentucky Plant Raises Stakes in Contract Battle

Detroit, MI — The United Auto Workers sprung a dramatic escalation in its showdown with U.S. automakers Wednesday, with 8,700 employees deserting vital Ford truck plants in Kentucky to join expanding walkouts now embroiling over 30,000 workers nationwide.

The shock move pulls off the job Ford’s largest facility, a protagonist truck factory that rakes in huge returns from popular models like the F-150. UAW President Shawn Fain framed the confrontation as overdue notice Ford must enhance its offer after weeks of supposed stonewalling.

“If they can’t understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it,” Fain fumed via statement.

But Ford quickly slammed the action as “grossly irresponsible,” while an executive told reporters Fain rejected what was termed the company’s best possible proposal earlier that afternoon. He said the UAW chief pledged “you just lost Kentucky Truck Plant” upon hearing terms.

The flareup demonstrates the union’s increasing desperation to break stubborn deadlocks with automakers by choking off earnings at carefully selected sites. Experts say Fain likely wants to gauge how severely disrupting Ford’s lucrative truck franchise pressures executives before pulling the ripcord on all-out stoppages.

“I think the issues that remain on the table are quite thorny,” said professor Marick Masters, highlighting union demands around pensions and retirement benefits. He said companies probably can’t stretch further without consequences for competitiveness.

So far the UAW has adopted a gradual approach targeting key plants at each company in turn, rather than downing tools simultaneously across Detroit’s Big Three. But Masters believes Fain’s brinkmanship carries risk the entire auto industry gets embroiled in open-ended “industrial chaos” absent compromise.

Ford contends UAW actions have already triggered 4,800 supporting layoffs as supply chains seize up. And analysts warn idled component plants may cut deeper with lengthy strikes depleting inventories, raising urgency around settlements.

Yet intensity continues escalating as talks plod into a second month. For anxious factory towns and executives sweating each passing day without production, the Kentucky walkout may prove either a breakthrough or crisis point in fraught talks teetering either toward conciliation or combustion.

Photo by Demian Tejeda-Benitez on Unsplash