UAW strike affecting Ford EV battery plant in Marshall
MARSHALL, Mich. (WILX) - Ford announced it will pause construction on its $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Marshall.
“We are aware of the current pause on work, and we remain confident of the enormous potential of Ford’s Blue Oval Battery Park project to create local opportunities and thousands of local jobs,” wrote James Durian, the CEO of the Marshall Economic Development Alliance, in a statement. “We hope current negotiations between Ford and the UAW conclude in a mutually beneficial manner, and we remain confident this project will continue as planned once these negotiations are complete.”
Although electric vehicles are not at the heart of contract negotiations between the UAW and the Big Three, they are having an impact.
The debate is not whether the Big Three should transition to EV but how. UAW President Shawn Fain said he is not against the transition but wants workers to be unionized.
“Every auto job a good auto job” is the sign UAW workers are on strike hold as the Big Three and the UAW still negotiate contracts. The UAW highlights EVs in their signs, a subtle gesture into one of the key talking points of the UAW demands along with wages, benefits and job security.
“They are looking at what their future is going to be, and for them, it possibly a future with less employees,” said Michelle Kaminski, an associate professor at Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations.
The UAW is asking for EV manufacturers to be unionized.
“This is another big, major technological shift, and the UAW is trying to protect the interest of their current members and their future members by making sure those jobs are unionized,” said Kaminski.
The Big Three’s companies have begun opening plants for electric vehicles and their supplies in the south—notoriously known as a less pro-union area. That decision further weakened the union and is believed to be a cost-saving measure by the automakers.
“The automakers don’t want that [EV unions], which you could say, of course, but it is still a bit surprising because they’ve been working with these unions since the 1930s and 40s, so why should it be so hard to keep working with the union going forward,” said Kaminski.
Recently, the Biden Administration announced more than $15 billion in funding to convert auto plants to make EVs, emphasizing that unionized companies would get first dibs in applying for the funding.
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