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    Ford says it can’t spend any more to secure a UAW contract
    • October 12, 2023

    A top Ford executive says the company has reached the limit of how much money it will spend to get a contract agreement with the striking United Auto Workers union.

    Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Blue, the company’s internal combustion engine business, told reporters Thursday that Ford stretched to get to the offer it now has on the table.

    His comments are starkly different from those made by UAW President Shawn Fain Wednesday when he announced an escalation of the union’s strike by walking out at Ford’s largest and most profitable factory. The apparently widening labor rift indicates that Ford and the union may be in for a lengthy strike that could cost the company and workers billions of dollars.

    Fain said in Wednesday that Ford told UAW bargainers for nearly two weeks that it would make another counteroffer on economic issues. But at a meeting called by the union, the company didn’t increase its previous offer, Fain said. “Ford hasn’t gotten the message” to bargain for a fair contract, Fain said in announcing the walkout by 8,700 workers at the company’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

    “We’ve been very patient working with the company on this,” he said in a video. “They have not met expectations, they’re not even coming to the table on it.”

    Galhotra called Ford’s offer “incredibly positive” and said Ford never indicated to the union that it would be increased.

    “We have been very clear we are at the limit,” he said on a conference call with reporters. “We risk the ability to invest in the business and profitably grow. And profitable growth is in the best interest of everybody at Ford.”

    The company has a set amount of money, but is willing to move dollars around in a way that might fit the union’s needs, he said, adding that he still thinks it’s possible to reach a deal.

    The escalation of the strike came nearly four weeks after the union began its walkouts against Ford and Detroit counterparts General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis on Sept. 15, with one assembly plant from each company. The union later added 38 parts warehouses at GM and Stellantis, and then three Ford and Stellantis assembly plants, involving a total of 33,700 workers.

    On Thursday, Fain hinted at further action against Stellantis.

    “Here’s to hoping talks at Stellantis today are more productive than Ford yesterday,” Fain wrote on X, formerly Twitter, without saying what might happen.

    A person with direct knowledge of the talks said the union met with Stellantis Thursday morning and was to return for more talks in the afternoon. The person, who didn’t want to be identified because he is not authorized to discuss negotiations, said talks were active with GM and Stellantis, but he was not aware of any negotiations with Ford.

    So far the union has not announced any further job actions, although Fain is set to brief the membership in a video appearance Friday morning.

    Ford’s sprawling truck plant in Kentucky makes heavy-duty F-Series pickup trucks and large Ford and Lincoln SUVs, the company’s most lucrative products. The vehicles made at the plant generate $25 billion per year in revenue, more than Southwest Airlines and Marriott, the company said.

    Ford said the expanded strike puts 13 other Ford plants that supply or receive parts at risk, as well as 600 parts supply companies that would have to lay off workers. In all, the strike at Kentucky Truck affects 100,000 workers, the company said.

    Last week the union said Ford’s general wage offer, for instance, is up to 23% over four years, after starting at 9%. GM and Stellantis were at 20%.

    Anthony Spencer, who has worked at the truck plant for eight years, said the surprise walkout would get Ford’s attention.

    “We know it’s going to hit them. We lose a lot of millions of dollars every day that we don’t run,” said Spencer, who is the local union’s recording secretary and helped organize the walkout.

    ​ Orange County Register