The UAW says it will take unspecified action against Ford Motor Co. unless the automaker reverses a decision to build an upcoming vehicle in Mexico that it had previously committed to assembling in Ohio.
Gerald Kariem, head of the UAW-Ford department, accused Ford of "corporate greed" in a letter to workers at the Ohio Assembly Plant, saying the company is reneging on a promise made to give the plant a new product before its latest labor agreement with the UAW expires in 2023.
Ford did not deny that its plans changed but said it would continue to invest in the Ohio plant.
"Unfortunately, Ford Motor Co. has decided it will not honor its promise to add a new product to OHAP and, instead, it intends to build the next-generation vehicle in Mexico," Kariem wrote in the letter, which was first reported by a Cleveland news station Monday. "Ford management expects us to just hang our heads and accept the decision. But let me be clear, we are making a different choice. We 100 percent 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."
Ford in its contract with the UAW promised the plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, would receive $900 million in investment, including a "next-generation product" in 2023.
Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, said the product at issue is a pair of midsize electric crossovers for the Ford and Lincoln brands that would slot alongside the Mustang Mach-E at the automaker's plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico.
A person familiar with Ford's plans who asked not to be identified confirmed that Ford was considering building the EVs in Ohio and has since decided to make them in Mexico.
Automotive News first reported Ford's plan to build the EVs, code-named CDX746 and CDX747, in August 2019. Suppliers have been told to prepare for annual volume of 75,000 vehicles for the Ford and Lincoln models combined and that they would go into production in mid-2023.
Following contract ratification in late 2019, Bloomberg reported that Ford planned to make unnamed EVs at Ohio Assembly which originally were intended for Michigan. The company now plans to keep the plant focused on heavy-truck production, Fiorani said.
Ford said publicly last November that it planned to add another EV in Cuautitlan.
Ford, in a letter to employees Monday, noted "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."
The letter did not deny that Ford had chosen Mexico over Ohio or address the product commitment made in the 2019 contract, although it noted previous investments made in 2015-16. At that time, Ford shifted production of the F-650 and F-750 to Ohio from Mexico.
"Ford Motor Co. believes in the Ohio Assembly Plant work force, our state and local government officials and the communities of Avon Lake, Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Village," Ford said in the letter, signed by Plant Manager Jason Moore. "The company has affirmed that commitment with the investment and additional full-time positions referenced previously. I firmly believe that this, coupled with our history of successful new-product launches, has put us in position to provide a significant advantage to the company's competitiveness in the Commercial Vehicle segment."
Kariem said the union was demanding answers from the company but did not elaborate on what kind of action it might take.
"We have risen to every challenge thrown our way since our founding in 1935," he wrote. "This institution has always rolled with the punches and punched back above our weight. We will work through this."