Gov. Andy Beshear brought a box of fresh sandwiches to striking UAW Local 862 members outside the big Kentucky Ford Truck Plant in Louisville on Wednesday.
His surprise visit included a pair of brief, impromptu speeches and a visit to a picket line, but no media. “Folks, I’m Andy Beshear and I’m the proud pro-union governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” he announced, triggering loud cheers and applause from the strikers.
“But I wanted to be here today not as governor but as a dad and somebody with a family, knowing that you are sacrificing right now for so many Kentucky families to have better wages, better benefits, and ensure that everybody gets home safely at the end of the day."
He wanted the strikers “to know that I am here for you, for your families,” telling them that he knew they were “trying to help thousands upon thousands of Kentucky families have that better life.”
The governor said he was “so proud of your fight” and for the Autoworkers “standing up for our Kentucky families.”
Tim Morris, executive director of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, didn’t know the governor was coming until his motorcade pulled up outside the truck plant union hall at 2702 Chamberlain Lane, strike headquarters.
Todd Dunn, Local 862 president, introduced Beshear to a small crowd including officials from Teamster Locals 89 and 783.
“The governor wanted to bring some sandwiches,” Dunn said. “This is not a campaign stop, no media got called. As a matter of fact, we went out of our way to keep it secret.”
Morris said Beshear “bought the sandwiches with his own money.”
Dunn said that outside the governor’s office the only people who knew about the visit were UAW President Sean Fain, Vice President Chuck Browning and a few other UAW officials “because we wanted to keep it about the people.”
The crowd inside the hall cheered and clapped when the governor introduced himself as “the proud pro-union governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
He said he knew “what our unions have done and continue to do, and that is fight to build a better life for our families. That’s what I try to do in this job every day.”
The 8,700-member Local 862 is part of a nationwide strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. “Many of the union’s core demands have been about clawing back concessions they made around the time of the financial crisis, and bringing back the enviable pay and perks that a previous generation of autoworkers enjoyed,” wrote NPR’s Camilla Domonoske.
She added that the UAW also wants “job protection and job quality” guarantees for electric vehicle battery plants.
The Kentucky Truck Plant makes Ford F-250 to F-550 Super Duty Trucks, the Ford Expedition, and the Lincoln Navigator.