United Auto Workers leaders huddled with Ford Motor Co. executives today after the union was caught off guard by President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet last night he helped prevent another Ford model from going to Mexico.
While the union is pleased Ford has now committed to continue building the Lincoln MKC small sport utility vehicle at a Kentucky factory, Trump’s tweets had suggested that the entire Louisville Assembly Plant’s output was under threat of moving to Mexico. The MKC is built on the same assembly line as the Ford Escape, which outsells the Lincoln version by 12-to-1. More than 5,000 employees are working nearly around the clock on three crews to meet demand for the two SUVs, said Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862 in Louisville.
So were Trump’s tweets that there would be “no Mexico” because he “worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky” misleading?
“I’ll let each individual reach their own conclusions, but the true answer should be clear to anyone,” Dunn said in an interview. “What is important is the transparency between Ford Motor Co. and the UAW. We’re doing a good job and that wasn’t decided in an overnight tweet.”
Ford didn’t inform the union of its long-term plans for the MKC before those tweets went out Thursday night, Dunn said. That’s what UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who oversees Ford contract negotiations, and other union leaders were planning to discuss with the company today, he said. Settles and Ford manufacturing chief Bruce Hettle sent a letter to Louisville plant workers Friday promising to meet with them “in the coming days” to discuss the change in plans on the MKC.
After Trump’s tweets, the company acknowledged for the first time it had been considering moving production of the MKC to Mexico, allowing the plant to boost output of the Escape, one of its hottest models. After talks between Executive Chairman Bill Ford and the president-elect, the automaker decided to keep building the MKC in Louisville after the UAW’s current contract expires in 2019.