U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said he and other Ohio lawmakers are working with the White House to put pressure on Ford management to honor a promise of a $900 million investment in its Avon Lake assembly plant.
The United Auto Workers claim Ford is reneging on the promise made during 2019 contract negotiations and now plans to build the undisclosed vehicle in Mexico.
“We’re working with the White House. We’re going to put a lot of pressure on Ford management,” Brown told reporters. Wednesday. “It’s the same old story — they make promises or shut down production or fail to invest and they move to Mexico because they can save on labor costs and environmental costs. That’s what the auto industry has done in our state for decades, and we’re fighting back.”
The Ford plant, one of several auto assembly facilities in the state, makes E-series vans and Super Duty pickup trucks. Honda also produces Accord and CR-V models as well as Acuras here, while Jeep makes the Wrangler and Gladiator in Toledo.
“We 100 percent 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,” UAW Vice President and Director Gerald Kariem said in a March 12 letter to union members.
Ford did not immediately respond to questions, but in a statement to media outlets said: “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. 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.”
The episode is Ohio lawmakers’ latest battle with automakers over production. General Motors closed its plant in Lordstown in 2019. At that time Brown, a Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, called for but weren’t able to secure a commitment from GM to make another vehicle to replace the Chevrolet Cruze.
Portman said this week he hoped reports that Ford was moving its new project to Mexico were false.
“I’m very concerned about it. I don’t know that it’s accurate, I hope it’s not,” Portman said. “Ford has made a commitment to be the biggest U.S. manufacturer — in other words, of all the U.S. companies — that they will manufacture more in the United States than anybody else. They do that now. I hope that they choose to continue to keep that product at Avon Lake, and I’m weighing in strongly encouraging that.”
After the Lordstown closure, workers transferred to other GM plants and the automaker sold the factory to electric-vehicle startup Lordstown Motors — but production at the plant has yet to restart. Last week, a short seller accused the company of fabricating orders to artificially boost its stock.
Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, whose district extends to western Cleveland and includes the Ford plant in Avon Lake, called on the company to clarify its plans.
“For Ford to back out of its commitment to workers in Ohio, and instead export American jobs to Mexico, would be devastating decision for Ohio families and the greater regional economy,” she said.
“Every vehicle or component manufactured in Mexico represents a lost job and broken promise to America’s manufacturing work force.”