Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford called on the United Auto Workers (UAW) union to end the strike against Ford and the other Detroit automakers, arguing their competitors like Toyota, Honda and Tesla “are loving this strike.”
“This should not be Ford versus the UAW — it should be Ford and the UAW versus Toyota, Honda, Tesla and all the Chinese companies that want to enter our home market,” Ford said in livestreamed remarks Monday morning. “Toyota, Honda, Tesla and the others are loving this strike because they know the longer it goes on, the better it is for them. They will win, and all of us will lose.”
Sunday marked one month since the UAW began its historic strike against the three major Detroit automakers: Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis. The union is demanding wage increases, cost-of-living pay raises, a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay, union representation of workers at new battery plants and the restoration of traditionally defined pensions for new hires.
Ford argued Monday that the strike will impact the future of the American automobile industry.
“A strong manufacturing base is critical to our national security. Building things in America matters now more than ever, especially in these uncertain times,” Ford said. “And we can’t take that for granted. In my lifetime, I’ve watched countries lose their auto industry and then virtually all industries after that.”
“And today as the UAW strike against Ford continues, we’re at a crossroads. Choosing the right path isn’t just about Ford’s future and our ability to compete, this is about the future of the American automobile industry,” Ford said.
Ford, the great grandson of company founder Henry Ford, warned the automaker losing to the competition will prompt a loss of jobs, future investments and some factories.
“This is why Ford’s ability to invest in the future isn’t just a talking point — it’s the absolute lifeblood of our company,” Ford said. “And if we lose it, we will go to the competition. America loses.”
Claiming to be the “most pro-union leader” in the industry, Ford touted that the company builds more vehicles in America and employs more UAW employees than any other, while acknowledging these choices have added costs.
Ford employs 57,000 UAW workers, while GM has 46,000 workers and Stellantis has 43,000, The Associated Press reported,
“Many of our competitors moved jobs to Mexico as we added jobs here in the US,” Ford said. “As we added jobs here in the US, Ford is their strongest partner the UAW has ever known.”
Last Wednesday, around 8,700 workers walked out at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville — Ford’s largest and most profitable plant — where F-250 and F-550 trucks are built along with some SUVs. Ford claimed the shutting down of the Kentucky plant harms tens of thousands of Americans “right away.”
The union said the expanded strike came after Ford refused to negotiate further bargaining demands.
A top Ford executive told reporters last week that Ford reached a limit in how much it was willing to spend to end the strike, the AP reported.
Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, the company’s internal combustion engine business, reportedly told the media last Thursday that Ford stretched to get its current offer to the UAW, per the AP.
“We need to come together to bring an end to this acrimonious round of talks,” Ford said. “I still believe in a bright future, one that we can build together.”
Last week, UAW President Shawn Fain said Ford “hasn’t gotten the message” about what workers want.
“If they can’t understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it,” he said in a statement last Wednesday.
Fain said he sat down with Ford executives at the company’s headquarters earlier last Wednesday and demanded a new offer. While the company signaled it could include battery plants in a future union contract, Fain said no progress was made on economic terms.
UAW workers initially began picketing at one assembly plant from each company, but have since expanded to 38 parts warehouses at GM and Stellantis in hopes of adding pressure on the manufacturers to offer a union-friendly contract. The UAW later added another assembly plant at both GM and Ford.
With the several expansions of the strike over the past four weeks, an estimated 34,000 of the union’s 146,000 employees at all three automakers are now on strike.
The striking autoworkers have garnered wide support from the public along with President Biden, who joined members on the picket line in Michigan last month.
The UAW, Honda, Toyota and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.