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A top official at the United Auto Workers union is slamming Ford Motor Company after news broke that Ford was relocating the manufacturing of a next-generation vehicle from Ohio to Mexico. UAW Vice President Gerald Kariem wrote to the union that Ford was reneging on a commitment it made in 2019, when it promised to spend $900 million on the Ohio factory, part of which would have been devoted to producing a new model in 2023.
Kariem stated, “The agreement outlined an exciting vision for the complete revitalization of the OHAP facility that would secure OHAP employment well into the foreseeable future. These contractual commitments were an enormous win for the UAW, for the great state of Ohio, the community of Avon Lake and, most importantly, the members of Local 2000.”
“We expect the company to honor its contractual commitments to this membership and when it fails to do so we will take action,” he added.
“Ford management expects us to just hang our heads and accept the decision,” Kariem wrote. “But let me be clear, we are making a different choice. … We 100% reject the company’s decision to put corporate greed and more potential profits over American jobs and the future of our members. We expect the company to honor its contractual commitments to this membership and when it fails to do so we will take action.”
Kariem added that the UAW has asked Ford for data justifying its decision, but Ford has only given “strategically limited information.” He asserted, “We are intensely exploring our options at this time.”
The Ohio plant manager, Jason Moore, defended Ford, saying that since the contract was signed, the facts on the ground have evolved and Ford had hired over 100 additional employees to work on pickup truck production. He wrote, “While conditions upon which the 2019 Administrative Letter were based have changed, the Company is investing in the plant and increasing production of Super Duty trucks at OHAP.”
Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager, responded to an inquiry about the matter by saying:
We are always looking at our options. We still plan to invest $6 billion and create and retain 8,500 jobs in America during the course of this four-year contract. We are invested in Ohio Assembly Plant and our dedicated workforce there. Since 2019, we have invested more than $185 million and created and retained more than 100 jobs at Ohio Assembly Plant, including actions planned for this year. This includes increasing our capacity to build additional Super Duty trucks at Ohio Assembly Plant to meet strong consumer demand.
“Research firm AutoForecast Solutions expects Ford to begin production in 2023 of two electric sport-utility vehicles at its factory in Cuautitlán, Mexico. Those vehicles previously had been earmarked for the Ohio plant, said Sam Fiorani, the firm’s vice president of global vehicle forecasting,” The Wall Street Journal noted, adding, “General Motors Co. in 2019 ceased production of the Chevrolet Cruze at a factory in Lordstown, Ohio, affecting more than 1,000 jobs in the area.”