AVON LAKE, Ohio — Ford workers in Avon Lake were notified by letter from United Auto Workers leadership in Detroit that the automaker is not planning to bring a new line to their Ohio Assembly Plant (OHAP) but instead moving that production to Mexico.
The letter from UAW Vice President Gerald Kariem stated that at the heart of the last contract with Ford signed in November 2019 was to increase job security and Ford, in turn, responded with a commitment to invest $900 million into the Ohio Assembly Plant, some of which was for “next-generation product to be added in 2023,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, Ford Motor Company 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,” he wrote.
Ford has not come out publicly and said this was their intent and the union says they've only been provided with "strategically limited information," and classified the situation as "rapidly evolving."
In Avon Lake, Ted Esborn, Economic Development Director, said they learned of the letter from those who received it Friday.
"It's certainly very alarming,” he said. "We are taking hope right now that that may still be preserved, that there may be a way for Ford and the UAW to work this so the project can still go forward."
Kariem said in his letter “we expect the company to honor its contractual commitments to this membership and when it fails to do so we will take action. We have submitted data requests to the company asking them to explain the basis for the decision, but they continue to only provide us with strategically limited information. We are intensely exploring our options at this time.”
In a statement to Avon Lake workers Ford Plant Manager Jason Moore responded in a letter "as part of the 2019 UAW Ford CBA, the UAW’s highlights document included reference to a $900 million investment and a new product for OHAP. 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 read.
Adding that "in the short time between 2019 and now, coupled with planned actions yet to be taken in 2021. Full-time labor and base operation additions totaling more than 100 people, including some planned for this year. Continued Investment to add overall capacity, increase Super Duty production, launch updated new models, and modernize the facility totaling more than $185 million in the three years from 2019 to 2021."
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) telling News 5 he is reaching out to Ford and to President Biden.
"I know the president of the United States, I know what he thinks about these kinds of decisions and the trade policy that we have in far too many cases - the Trump tax plan for instance - incentives for companies to move overseas and we've got to roll back those tax breaks, we've got to change our trade policy, we began to do that with USMCA but this can't stand," Brown said.
"When they make a promise in a negotiated bargaining session, they make a promise to do an additional investment and then they decide well we'll take the investment elsewhere, that just can't stand. So I'm talking to the administration, talking to Ford, we're fighting back on this one."