The United Auto Workers walked out of a Kentucky Ford plant Wednesday, a significant escalation in the labor struggle.
The union made the strike effective at 6 p.m. at one of the automaker’s most profitable centers and employer of around 9,000 people.
The strike came as a shock to the company. According to Ford, the UAW demanded a new counteroffer by 5 p.m. Wednesday and a meeting at 5:30. The confab apparently didn’t last long, and the strike was on.
“The strike was called after Ford refused to make further movement in bargaining,” the UAW said in a statement.
Ford called the latest strike “grossly irresponsible” but said it was not that surprising, given the union’s openly antagonistic stance against carmakers during the strike.
The struck plant, located in Louisville, is a major profit source for Ford. The vehicles produced at the factory, including the Lincoln Navigator and the Ford Super Duty, bring in $25 billion yearly revenue for the company. According to local UAW leader Todd Dunn, Ford stands to lose $30 million a day from just the Kentucky plant.
The plant’s closure likely will have a domino effect on Ford’s other plants since they rely on parts made at the Louisville facility. The carmaker released a list of affected factories after the strike was announced, including plants in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky as well as Canada and Mexico.
The strike also will cause discomfort for union workers, as Ford could ramp up furloughs. Since the start of the strike, the firm has fired over 1,900 workers.
While significant concessions have been made by Ford during the negotiations, they are still far away from many of the union’s key demands like a 40% pay raise or the reintroduction of pensions.