AVON LAKE, Ohio — EDITOR'S NOTE: THE VIDEO IN THE PLAYER ABOVE ORIGINALLY AIRED ON NOV. 2, 2019.
The United Auto Workers union has informed workers at the Avon Lake Ford plant that it plans to move a major project slated for 2023 from Northeast Ohio to its plant in Mexico.
The letter, dated Friday, March 12, stated that Ford is going back on its agreement to build a "next-generation vehicle" at the Avon Lake plant in 2023.
In 2019, the UAW says Ford promised to invest $900 million in a new project at the Avon Lake plant, that was set to begin production in 2023. The agreement also included a "complete revitalization" of the facility.
Ford released a statement to 3News Tuesday that said:
"Ford employs more hourly workers in the U.S. than any other automaker, assembles more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and Ford chooses to invest in America more than any other automaker.
"We remain committed to investing $6 billion in our U.S. 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," the statement says. "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."
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown called on Ford to honor its agreement.
“Clevelanders turned on the local news and saw headlines about yet another American corporation deciding to build things in Mexico instead of Ohio. Ford had made a 2019 commitment to invest $900 million in the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio – an investment they promised would create more than 1,500 jobs. Ford announced instead that it has decided not to honor that promise, but instead build its next generation vehicle in Mexico. The decision to turn its back on the community is just unacceptable,” Brown said.
UAW leadership at the plant says it plans to fight the decision. You can read the full text of the letter to UAW members below:
"Brothers and Sisters,
"At the start of the 2019 UAW-Ford negotiations the union bargaining team determined that its main goal was to increase job security for this great membership. For months, the Company and the union held extensive, arduous discussions on this subject and we focused on maintaining a strong manufacturing presence in the United States.
"Thanks to the determination of the bargaining committee, your strong dedicated leadership of Local 2000, and your solidarity we were able to gain commitments in 2019 for the future of OHAP. The company committed $900 million for your facility. Some of that committed investment was for a next-generation product to be added in 2023. Best of all, the agreement outlined an exciting vision for the complete revitalization of the OHAP facility that would secure OHAP employment well into the foreseeable future. These contractual commitments were an enormous win for the UAW, for the great state of Ohio, the community of Avon Lake, and most importantly the members of Local 2000.
"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. Ford management expects us to just hang our heads and accept the decision. But let me be clear, we are making a different choice. We 100% reject the company's decision to put corporate greed and more potential profits over American jobs and the future of our members. 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 and I will keep the members of Local 2000 informed of our next steps. Even though the situation is rapidly evolving, I feel it is of extreme importance to continuously communicate vital updates associated with this situation.
"I remain impressed in my observations of your local leadership team and I am deeply grateful for their leadership and dedication to this great membership. Furthermore, I want to personally thank each of you for your guidance, support, and solidarity as we move forward.
"Lastly, I want to say we are the UAW. We have risen to every challenge thrown our way since our founding in 1935. This institution has always rolled with the punches and punched back above our weight. We will work through this. Please stay safe and remember that we are all in this together.
Vice President and Director
UAW National Ford Development"
Meanwhile, 3News obtained a letter written by Jason Moore, plant manager for Ohio Assembly Plant/Ford Motor Company, to plant employees.
"Ford Motor Company believes in the Ohio Assembly Plant workforce, our state and local government officials, and the communities of Avon Lake, Sheffield Lake, and Sheffield Village," Moore wrote.
You can read the entire letter below: