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Ford lays off 700 who were building electric version of F-150

By Chris Isidore, CNN

(CNN) — Ford is laying off about 700 workers who build the F-150 Lightning, the electric version of its best-selling pickup truck, and unlike other recent layoffs this one has nothing to do with the ongoing strike by the United Auto Workers union.

The company said it will temporarily cut one of the three shifts at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, near the company’s main headquarters. It will rotate the layoffs between the three shifts.

Ford had temporarily closed the plant this summer to upgrade its production capability, and the company said this latest layoff is related to “multiple constraints, including the supply chain and working through processing and delivering vehicles held for quality checks after restarting production in August.”

Sales of the Lightning fell 45% in the third quarter compared to a year earlier, the company reported earlier this month, though Ford said it expected to post an increase in sales during the final three months of the year as capacity increases at the plant take effect. The company said overall demand for its electric vehicle lineup remains strong with a 65% increase in the third quarter.

The UAW’s targeted strike at a total of five assembly factories at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis have prompted all three companies to lay off workers.

Ford announced an additional 500 layoffs spread across five component plants as of Monday, due to the UAW’s expansion of the strike at its largest factory, the Kentucky Truck Plant, last Wednesday. On Thursday, company executives said there could be a total of 4,600 layoffs by the end of this week at its various plants due to the expansion of the strike to Kentucky Truck. It has laid off nearly 2,500 workers so far, not counting those who had been building the Lightning.

Stellantis also expanded its layoffs on Friday to 780 employees at two plants in Kokomo, Indiana, bringing company-wide layoffs since the start of the strike on September 15 to 1,420.

GM has laid off 2,300 workers that it attributes to the impact of the strike, although no additional layoffs have been announced in recent days.

Workers laid off due to the strike are ineligible for unemployment benefits in most states. The workers also are ineligible for so-called “sub pay,” which is paid by the companies. Together unemployment benefits and sub pay covers 74% of their normal pay while laid off. But the F-150 Lightning workers who are laid off will be eligible for both unemployment and sub pay, according to Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch.

The union has challenged the companies’ claims that it needed to lay off workers whose work was affected by the strike at other plants, but said the laid-off workers are entitled to the same $500 a week in strike benefits as the nearly 35,000 now on strike at the three companies.

“That’s them trying to put the squeeze on our members to settle for less,” UAW President Shawn Fain has previously said about the layoffs. “With their record profits, they don’t have to lay off a single employee.”

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