Ford announced it is moving a nearly $1 billion project from Ohio to Mexico, prompting criticism from a major labor union and silence from the Biden administration, which has pledged to invest in domestic union projects.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he will be the most pro-union president in history by investing significant amounts of money in domestic infrastructure spending. The previous administration spoke out loudly against outsourcing in the automotive industry. In 2017, Ford canceled a multibillion-dollar investment project in Mexico and invested $1.2 billion in three Michigan factories instead. Former president Donald Trump touted the change for creating hundreds of jobs.
Shortly before the 2020 election, Biden held a rally in Toledo, Ohio, where he addressed a group of United Auto Workers members and promised to "invest" in autoworker jobs as he criticized Trump's trade policy.
"My plan will create a million good-paying union jobs, manufacturing and building products and technology that we need now and in the future. We’re not investing in research," Biden said. "I will invest in the American worker, because I know no one, nobody can outcompete an American worker when they’ve gotten a fair shot, nobody in the world."
The Biden White House did not respond to a request for comment on the situation or on whether Biden plans to intervene to stop the money from leaving the country.
Biden has made transitioning to electric vehicles one of the centerpieces of his climate plan. In late January, he announced that the entirety of the federal fleet of automobiles would be replaced with electric vehicles. The plan involves the replacing of 645,000 vehicles in a move that could benefit autoworkers in the Midwest. The announcement came after Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement and canceled the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a move decried by critics for costing thousands of jobs.
But Ford's decision to move the $900 million project out of the United States has prompted criticism from some of Biden's biggest allies. The UAW said Ford had committed to a four-year contract in 2019 to invest $900 million in a plant in Ohio to build electric vehicles.
The UAW criticized Ford for shipping the project to a foreign country in defiance of calls to keep investments in electric vehicle technology domestic. Rory Gamble, the president of the UAW, said the transition to electric vehicles must include "a commitment to locate any new jobs that are part of this transition in the United States in exchange for any tax dollar investment." The union said it is considering taking action.
"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," the UAW said in a letter to union members provided to the Washington Free Beacon. "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."
Ford touted its other domestic investments and the additional funds it has put into the Ohio plant but did not directly address its relocation of the $900 million project to Mexico in a statement to the Free Beacon.
"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," the company said. "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."