Ford CEO Jim Farley accused the United Auto Workers of holding contract negotiations “hostage” over the company’s forthcoming electric vehicle battery plants. The UAW strike, which is now in its third week, expanded today to include more facilities, including those operated by Ford.
The strike comes amid a historically consequential shift in the auto industry away from gas-guzzling vehicles to battery-powered ones with zero tailpipe emissions.
Like other automakers, Ford is committed to investing tens of billions of dollars in the transition, including the construction of four new EV battery plants in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan. Three of the four factories are joint ventures with a Chinese battery company, which has spurred Republican criticism of the storied automaker.
But just this week, Ford put one of those factories, a $3.5 billion EV battery facility in Michigan, on pause, citing labor costs and the potential for incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Now, Farley said that 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 deal hostage over battery plants,” Farley said. “Keep in mind these battery plants don’t exist yet. They’re mostly joint ventures. They’ve not been organized by the UAW yet because the workers haven’t been hired and won’t be for many years to come.”