Ford Chairman Urges Resolution as Strike Threatens Industry and Economy

17.10.2023 posted by Admin

Ford Chairman Urges End to 32-Day Strike, Warns of Wider Impact

Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford (F.N), has called upon the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to put an end to their 32-day strike and reach a fresh labor agreement. He has also warned about the growing negative effects on both the car manufacturer and the U.S. economy due to this strike.

Ford stressed the urgency of the situation, especially as the strike recently led to the closure of the Kentucky plant. He made an appeal to his UAW colleagues, urging them to unite and bring an end to this contentious round of negotiations.

This appeal took place during a press conference at the historic Rouge assembly plant of Ford, near the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

In response, UAW President Shawn Fain issued a statement, cautioning Ford that the union could "close the Rouge" with another strike. Fain emphasized that if Ford aspires to be the quintessential American auto company, they should provide American-level wages and benefits.

The ongoing strike has affected over 34,000 union members across Ford, General Motors (GM.N), and Stellantis (STLAM.MI), leading to Ford furloughing 2,480 other employees due to the strike's consequences.

Meanwhile, negotiations between Stellantis and the UAW were still active as of Monday, according to sources.

The strikes have taken a significant toll on the Detroit Three automakers, their suppliers, dealers, and the workers. An estimate from the Anderson Economic Group of East Lansing, Michigan, suggested that the collective financial impact reached a staggering $7.7 billion through October 12, as stated in their latest report.

"We have entered a critical phase for many suppliers," AEG expressed in a statement.

Bill Ford, the great-grandson of the company's founder, Henry Ford, mentioned that Toyota, Honda, Tesla, and other automakers were benefiting from this strike, as they knew that the longer it persisted, the more it favored them.

In response, Fain pointed out that workers at Tesla and other non-union U.S. auto manufacturers were not adversaries but rather potential future UAW members.

The UAW's strike at Kentucky Truck, Ford's most significant and profitable global assembly operation, is causing harm to tens of thousands of American workers, according to Bill Ford. He emphasized that if it continues, it will have a substantial impact on the American economy.

On a previous occasion, Fain accused Ford of trying to manipulate the negotiations with insufficient offers and demanded a substantial increase in compensation. He recommended that Ford's CEO, Jim Farley, bring out the "big checkbook" they use for executive payouts or Wall Street ventures.

Fain also vowed to call for strikes at additional plants whenever necessary.

A senior Ford executive revealed that the company was pushing its financial limits regarding higher wages and benefits for the UAW. Their latest offer includes a 23% wage increase through early 2028, which surpasses the offers made by GM and Stellantis. Ford argued that the UAW's proposals would have led to bankruptcy if implemented back in 2019.

Ford has consistently presented itself as the most union-friendly company in the industry, a message he reiterated during his recent statements.

Despite the UAW labeling Ford as "the enemy," Ford stressed that it should be Ford and the UAW uniting against Toyota, Honda, Tesla, and various Chinese companies looking to enter the U.S. market.

Labor expert Harley Shaiken from the University of California, Berkeley, noted that Bill Ford's appeal was aimed at reaching out directly to the workers. Shaiken suggested that this approach was intended to steer the negotiations in a direction favorable to Ford, although he believed that this strategy might not yield the desired results.

Shaiken also speculated that the UAW might be targeting and pressuring Ford because they had the most appealing offer on the table, which they could use as leverage to pressure GM and Stellantis into matching their terms. GM and Stellantis had not yet issued immediate responses.
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