The mood was upbeat at the United Auto Workers’ Michigan Assembly picket line Friday as hundreds of UAW strikers walked the sidewalks outside Ford’s sprawling Wayne, Mich., assembly plant. Picketers lined both sides of Michigan Avenue, carrying signs, chanting and cheering as passing cars and trucks honked and waved in solidarity.
The UAW Local 900 hall directly across Michigan Avenue served as a gathering point for picketers who braved distracted, speeding traffic along the major artery to work the lines at several entrances to Ford’s facility. Despite the dangers of the day and the uncertainty of the scenario, picketers wore smiles and chanted with enthusiasm, but there was no mistaking the message: Automakers are making big money and their employees should be too.
“People are getting a job here and quitting in months because they can find a place like McDonald’s or Burger King that just starts out more,” a picketer identifying himself as a strike captain said. “These billionaires think they can step all over us, and they can’t; and we’re proving it right now.”
“I think this could change the course of labor history,” he said.
It’s clear that the UAW wants more than immediate concessions; laborers want to change the way human resources are valued in the U.S. economy. When asked why the UAW chose to strike at facilities that build midsize pickups and SUVs and not higher-margin vehicles like the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado or Ram 1500, he said he feels the UAW is keeping that one in the chamber.
“I think we’re holding that one. It could be next, I don’t know. It’s kind of a scare tactic, you know? It’s right there,” the captain said.
Ford’s Michigan Assembly facility builds the Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup for the U.S. market. Ford sold nearly 120,000 Broncos and more than 55,000 Rangers in 2022.