Some Ford workers at an assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky are now being asked to take unpaid leave, just weeks after the United Auto Workers (UAW) escalated strikes to include a nearby truck plant.
According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, the publication obtained a letter Ford sent to workers in the final assembly area of the Louisville plant, which says that they can apply for a two-week period during which to take unpaid leave. The letter says that the deadline for unpaid leave applications is October 25, and the workers won’t be eligible for unemployment.
Workers are not being required to take the unpaid personal leave, contrasting the potential for Ford to simply lay off employees department-wide as it attempts to cut costs.
This particular plant in Louisville builds the Lincoln Corsair and the Ford Escape, and it employs 3,227 hourly workers total, according to info on the automaker’s website that was updated last month.
In a statement on Wednesday to Detroit Free Press, Ford said, “We are offering voluntary schedule adjustments at Louisville Assembly Plant as part of our normal course of business, not related to the UAW strike.”
The unpaid leave will not include entire shifts, and interested parties must apply by completing a form and turning it in to labor relations.
The letter says that the unpaid leave conditions will include but not be limited to the following:
- Unpaid leave granted Monday through Sunday in two-week increments
- Selected workers to be chosen based on department staffing needs
- The number of employees chosen will be distributed across different shifts
- Once selected for unpaid leave, employees cannot take back their applications
- If applicable, workers selected will still remain active and will qualify for any holiday pay and ratification bonuses
President of UAW Local 862, Todd Dunn, recently predicted that the nearby Kentucky Truck Plant strike may affect the nearby factory and an assembly facility in Ohio due to their reliance on the stamping at the pickup plant. Detroit Free Press couldn’t reach Dunn for comment following the unpaid leave offer.
The news comes as ripple effects from the UAW strikes have begun hitting a number of suppliers and additional factories, as the union has shifted to target each of the “Big Three” automakers’ largest and most profitable factories. These include Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, Stellantis’s Sterling Heights, Michigan Assembly Plant and, most recently, General Motors’s (GM’s) Arlington, Texas factory.
The UAW escalated strikes at GM and Stellantis’s largest factories about two weeks after the union target Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant. This week, GM and Stellantis also furloughed over 650 additional workers while Ford let go of 364 more workers over the weekend.