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Republicans go on the attack after Ford halts EV battery plant construction in Marshall


Republicans go on the attack after Ford halts EV battery plant construction in Marshall

Sep 27, 2023 | 8:46 am ET
By Ken Coleman
Republicans go on the attack after Ford halts EV battery plant construction in Marshall
The Ford Motor Company world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The Michigan Strategic Fund on Tuesday approved $65 million in additional funding for a Marshall site for a project where Ford Motor Co. this week halted construction of a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant.  

The automaker’s action has spurned controversy and battle of words as the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis is in its second week.

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“Even with $1.8 billion in taxpayer support, Ford doesn’t know if this plant can be competitive in Michigan, and it doesn’t make sense to throw millions more taxpayer dollars at a stalled project,” said House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.). “… Instead of giving away the people’s money to a few electric battery plants, we should invest in roads, bridges, and public safety and foster a competitive economy that will attract all kinds of business opportunities and careers to our state.”

UAW President Shawn Fain on Tuesday called Ford’s action “shameful.”

“Closing 65 plants over the last 20 years wasn’t enough for the Big Three, now they want to threaten us with closing plants that aren’t even open yet,” Fain said. “We are simply asking for a just transition to electric vehicles and Ford is instead doubling down on their race to the bottom.”

The union has been on strike since Sept. 15 against all three Detroit Three companies, with three initial strike targets: Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, GM’s Wentzville plant in Missouri and Stellantis’ Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Last week, Fain announced additional strikes at 38 GM and Stellantis auto suppliers in 20 states, sparing Ford because there had been meaningful progress in talks.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bipartisan $1.3 billion supplemental spending bill in March, which included about $630 million for the plant. The Democratic administration said it would create thousands of jobs.

State Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp.), the House minority floor leader, told the Advance Tuesday that Democratic “failed leadership” in Lansing has caused Ford to question whether the plant can be profitable. 

“It’s failed leadership and failed policies that the governor and House and Senate Democrats have pushed for the last eight months,” Posthumus told the Advance on Tuesday, making reference to prevailing wage and right-to-work legislation championed by Democrats who have membership majorities in both chambers.

Several other Republicans levied similar criticism.

Republicans go on the attack after Ford halts EV battery plant construction in Marshall
Rep. Bryan Posthumus, Feb. 9, 2023 | House GOP photo

“Gov. Whitmer threw $1.7 billion in taxpayer dollars at Ford to bring its new EV plant to Marshall, but even that wasn’t enough to make the company turn a blind eye toward the anti-business climate the Democrat majority has created,” said Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Springport) in a statement. “… Gov. Whitmer was insistent on paying a premium to land the Ford project. Now that it’s falling through, I hope she’s just as adamant about making sure any tax dollars already paid out are returned to the state.”

Bobby Leddy, Whitmer’s spokesman, told the Advance on Tuesday that “we’ve been aggressively pursuing deals that support working men and women, while also bringing supply chains back home from overseas for the first time and securing record-breaking investment that will guarantee jobs for decades.

“Ford has been clear that this is a pause, and we will continue to push for successful negotiations between the Big Three and UAW so that Michiganders can get back to work doing what they do best,” Leddy said.