The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has now been striking against Ford, General Motors (GM) and Stellantis for one month, and this week, one Ford executive has called for the labor effort to end before doing any more damage to the economy.
Ford Motor Executive Chair Bill Ford warned that continuing strikes could harm the automaker’s ability to compete with companies like Tesla and Toyota, delivering remarks on Monday from the automaker’s Dearborn, Michigan Rouge Complex (via Automotive News). Ford, who is also the great-grandson of Founder Henry Ford, said the auto industry was “at a crossroads” in the current round of negotiations.
“Choosing the right path is not just about Ford’s future and our ability to compete,” Ford said in the remarks. “This is about the future of the American automobile industry. Toyota, Honda, Tesla and 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.”
The historic Rouge Complex is symbolic, and Ford called the site “the crown jewel of a company that still believes building in America matters.”
“We can stop this now,” Ford added. “We need to come together to bring an end to this acrimonious round of talks.”
The news comes after Ford workers unexpectedly walked off the job at its most profitable factory, the Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville, last week. The additional walkouts doubled the number of employees on strike to 16,600, totaling more than the 9,400 and 8,000 on strike against GM and Stellantis, respectively.
UAW President Shawn Fain followed up by saying that the union wouldn’t be sharing routine deadlines for additional strikes anymore, adding that the automaker had “stopped being interested in reaching a fair deal.”
“They thought they figured out the so-called rules of the game, so we changed the rules,” Fain added.
The news also comes after Kumar Galhotra, the automaker’s president of internal combustion engine (ICE) division Ford Blue, said last week that the company had “reached its limit” with contract offers.
After sharing what Ford called “unprecedented” pay raises in a recent offer, the UAW said progress was still needed for contracts to cover workers at future electric vehicle (EV) battery plants. As of last week, the Big Three automakers had reportedly offered to increase wages by 20-23 percent. GM concessions on battery plants from the prior week prevented further UAW walkouts at the company’s factories.
During his remarks on Monday, Ford pointed out that he has been a part of every set of UAW contract negotiations since 1982, even calling himself the most “pro-union leader in the industry.” He also said he had avoided speaking publicly about the ongoing strikes but felt his perspective was critical. His advice for the over 40 years of experience was to avoid taking things personally.
“You get on an emotional roller coaster — both sides do,” Ford explained. “You just have to leave all that aside. It doesn’t matter if we’re angry at some rhetoric or not. What should matter is, for the sake of everyone, we’ve got to get back to work. And how do we find that deal? We’ve got to get to that deal and take all the personalities and rhetoric out of it.”
“What I also keep reminding everybody is when this ends, we have to all work together again, and not just work together, we have to become a family again and continue on,” Ford said. “And we will.”
You can watch the full remarks from Ford Motors Executive Chair Bill Ford below.