Car Industry

UAW says Ford won't honor contract as vehicle production swings from Ohio to Mexico

The UAW threatened action against Ford if it doesn't reverse course.

The Ohio Assembly Plant most recently earned F-650 and F-750 production.

Drama between Ford and the United Auto Workers union unfolded Tuesday after an ABC affiliate news station in Cleveland reported the automaker plans to move future vehicle production out of Ohio and to Mexico.

According to a letter seen by Roadshow that Gerald Kariem, vice president of the UAW's National Ford Department, sent to Local 2000 union members, Ford "decided it will not honor its promise to add a new product" to the Ohio Assembly Plant. The plant was part of the union's 2019 bargaining effort, and Kariem said the union won a major victory in securing a $900 million investment and a promise from Ford the OHAP would be the home of a next-generation vehicle starting in 2023. Kariem said in his letter Ford now "intends to build the next-generation vehicle in Mexico."

Kariem, speaking on behalf of the UAW, said the union rejects the company's decision to "put corporate greed and more potential profits over American jobs and the future of our members." In the letter he also accused Ford of breaking its contractual commitments and threatened "action" if the company does not change its decision.

Ford told Roadshow in a statement, "We remain committed to investing $6 billion in our US plants and creating and retaining 8,500 jobs in America during this four-year UAW 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."

Ford did not deny the decision to move this new vehicle from Ohio to Mexico, but didn't comment directly on the matter. A letter from OHAP's plant manager, Jason Moore, underscored Ford's statement and also highlighted the company's decision to transfer F-650 and F-750 medium-duty truck production from Mexico to Ohio.

According to Automotive News, the "next-generation" vehicle in question is an electric car, or two: one for the Ford brand and one for Lincoln. The publication's source said Ford has decided to move the projects to Mexico for production. The loss of a future EV may explain the particularly sour feelings the UAW has as the union works to secure its members' future in an era of building electric cars.