DETROIT (FOX 2) - Thousands of UAW members were added to the strike during a surprise announcement Wednesday evening.
About 8,700 union members at the Ford Kentucky Truck Assembly Plant walked off the job. The truck plant, which makes heavy-duty pickups and large SUVs, is Ford's largest and most profitable plant. It brings in about $25 billion a year.
Ford called this move "grossly irresponsible but unsurprising" in a statement.
Now, roughly ⅓ of Ford's production has been impacted by the strike.
Typically, UAW President Shawn Fain announces strike additions during updates he holds on Fridays, so Wednesday's addition came as a surprise.
"I think that he's trying to do is put the other two companies in a position where they can make a counteroffer between now and Friday to try and avert that, and if they don't, he's probably going to announce strikes," said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University. "He's already indicated that the Arlington facility at GM was their target last week that they averted at the last minute."
Last week, Fain did not add any additional members to the picket line after a late decision by General Motors to add its electric vehicle battery plants to the UAW master agreement.
At that point, all Big Three automakers - Ford, GM, and Stellantis - had made enough progress in negotiations to avoid having more facilities targeted.
Fain is expected to provide another update at 10 a.m. Friday. Depending on the status of negotiations, even more members could be added to the strike.
"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. In addition to our offer on pay and benefits, Ford has been bargaining in good faith this week on joint venture battery plants, which are slated to begin production in the coming years.
"The UAW leadership’s decision to reject this record contract offer – which the UAW has publicly described as the best offer on the table – and strike Kentucky Truck Plant, carries serious consequences for our workforce, suppliers, dealers and commercial customers.
"Kentucky Truck is Ford’s largest plant and one of the largest auto factories in America and the world. The vehicles produced at the Louisville-based factory – the F-Series Super Duty, the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator – generate $25 billion a year in revenue. In addition to affecting approximately 9,000 direct employees at the plant, this work stoppage will generate painful aftershocks – including putting at risk approximately a dozen additional Ford operations and many more supplier operations that together employ well over 100,000 people.
"This decision by the UAW is all the more wrongheaded given that Ford is the only automaker to add UAW jobs since the Great Recession and assemble all of its full-size trucks in America."