Ford CEO Jim Farley accused the United Auto Workers of holding contract negotiations “hostage” to the company’s upcoming electric vehicle battery plants. The UAW strike, now in its third week, was expanded today to include more facilities, including those operated by Ford.
The strike comes amid a historically momentous shift in the auto industry, moving from gas-guzzling vehicles to battery-powered vehicles that emit zero tailpipe emissions.
Like other automakers, Ford has committed to investing tens of billions of dollars in the transition, including building four new electric vehicle battery plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. Three of the four factories are joint ventures with a Chinese battery company, which has sparked Republican criticism of the historic automaker.
But just this week, Ford paused one of those factories, a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery facility in Michigan, citing labor costs and the potential for incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Now , Farley said the UAW is trying to use the battery factories as leverage in its negotiations with Ford, which he said doesn’t make sense in the context of this current contract.
“The UAW is holding the agreement hostage to the battery plants,” Farley said. “It must be taken into account that these battery plants do not yet exist. They are mostly joint ventures. The UAW has not organized them yet because the workers have not been hired and will not be in the coming years.”