Ford Layoffs Increased at Two Plants, but UAW President Hints at Strike End

In a prolonged standoff that’s been making headlines for over a month now, the United Auto Workers (UAW) are embroiled in a strike against the automotive giants, known collectively as the Big Three – Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis. The ramifications of this labor conflict are reverberating throughout the industry, causing a cascade of layoffs due to supply chain disruptions.


Layoffs Multiply as Supply Chain Disruptions Persist

Ford, one of the Big Three, recently announced the latest round of layoffs. They have to part ways with 364 employees, spread across two states. This downsizing, affecting the Sharonville, Ohio Transmission Plant and the Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is attributed to a drop in parts demand resulting from the ongoing strikes. These cuts represent just a fraction of the larger picture, with Ford’s production system feeling the pinch due to its high level of interconnectedness.

According to a statement from Ford spokesperson Dan Barbossa, “Our production system is highly interconnected, which means the UAW’s targeted strike strategy has knock-on effects for facilities that are not directly targeted for a work stoppage.”

This isn’t the first wave of layoffs. The Sharonville and Rawsonville plants had already been subject to staff reductions, bringing the total number of laid-off workers to 660 and 45, respectively. These cutbacks are directly connected to the supply chain disruptions brought about by the UAW’s strikes.

The strikes have now reached their sixth week, involving approximately 16,600 workers across three Ford factories in Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky. Additionally, about 3,100 workers are experiencing layoffs at 10 sites connected to the labor effort. The impact of these strikes has been wide-reaching and continues to escalate.


Industry-Wide Ramifications

General Motors, a major player in the industry, faced its own set of issues earlier this month, with around 500 employees feeling the brunt of layoffs across four production facilities. Notably, last month, GM was forced to shut down a Kansas facility that was employing roughly 2,000 people.

The situation has escalated to such a point that Bill Ford, Executive Chair and great-grandson of the legendary Henry Ford, publicly called for an end to the contract negotiations earlier this week. The UAW strike now encompasses over 34,000 of its members, representing a vast workforce of nearly 150,000 employees across the three automotive giants. According to a study by the Center for Automotive Research, the strike has cost the US economy $4 billion so far.

Moreover, it has had a significant impact on consumers, particularly those who are looking to buy a new car. The strike has caused a shortage of new cars, which has driven up prices. As per a recent study by Edmunds, the average price of a new car in the United States is now over $47,000, which is up from around $45,000 before the strike began. This has also made it more difficult for people to get their cars repaired. Many dealerships are running low on parts, and it is taking longer to get cars fixed. In some cases, people are having to wait weeks or even months for their cars to be repaired.


Ongoing Negotiations and Future Uncertainties

President of the UAW, Shawn Fain, has warned of further walkouts despite recent progress in contract negotiations with the Detroit Three. Although the automakers have agreed to a 23% wage increase over the four-year contract period, Fain believes there is more to be achieved. Additionally, GM and Ford have included cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), resulting in an overall compensation increase of over 30%.

UAW President, Shawn Fain, stressed that their strike against the big car companies is unlike anything they’ve done before, and he believes these highly profitable companies can give more to the workers. But he also mentioned that the strikes might be coming to an end because some members want to vote on the current offers. Fain told union members to stay strong and not let doubts or disagreements get in the way during the negotiations. He also said the union is eager to wrap up the talks.


What is the UAW strike about?

The UAW strike is a labor dispute between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Detroit Three automakers: Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis. The strike began on September 15, 2023, and is now in its seventh week, making it the longest by the union in over 50 years. 

The UAW is demanding better wages and benefits, including a 23% wage increase over four years, cost-of-living adjustments, and an end to a two-tier pay scale that was instituted after the near-collapse of the U.S. auto industry during the 2008-09 recession.

Originally posted 2023-10-22 18:06:41.