Ford Chairman Urges End of UAW Strike, Warns Company Will Suffer

Ford’s chairman has claimed that the strike could harm the economy.
Ford Chairman Urges End of UAW Strike, Warns Company Will Suffer
William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford, is seen as he visits the electric car production line at the Ford automobile factory in Cologne, Germany, on June 12, 2023. (Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford on Monday called on autoworkers to end their ongoing strike, stressing that it could harm the company’s ability to invest in the future and provide jobs.

Mr. Ford, who is the grandson of the company’s founder, Henry Ford, made his rare remarks amid contract negotiations in the company’s hometown of Dearborn, Michigan.

Speaking from the heart of the American automotive industry, Mr. Ford stressed the critical role played by labor and its direct impact on the company’s trajectory. He expressed concerns that high labor costs could limit the company’s capacity to innovate, develop new vehicles, and invest in its manufacturing facilities.

“It’s the absolute lifeblood of our company. And if we lose it, we will lose to the competition. America loses. Many jobs will be lost,” he said. He also contrasted Ford with several competitors who have outsourced jobs to Mexico, while Ford has expanded its workforce within the United States.

The company’s competitors might also exploit the turmoil between the union and the Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, Mr. Ford contended.

Toyota, Honda, and Tesla are the winners in the monthlong strike, Mr. Ford claimed.

“It should be Ford and the UAW versus Toyota and Honda, Tesla, and all the Chinese companies that want to enter our home,” he added, arguing that it shouldn’t be Ford versus the UAW.

Ford currently stands as a company with the largest American vehicle production and a substantial United Auto Workers (UAW) workforce. With 57,000 UAW employees, it surpasses General Motors (GM) with 46,000 and Stellantis with 43,000.

United Auto Workers (UAW) members strike outside of Ford's Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., on Sept. 26, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
United Auto Workers (UAW) members strike outside of Ford's Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., on Sept. 26, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

The Strike

Since the strike began on Sept. 15, more than 34,000 union workers at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis have put tools down.

This includes nearly 9,000 who went on strike at Ford’s most profitable facility in Louisville, Kentucky. The truck facility generates $25 billion in revenue per year, according to UAW President Shawn Fain.

The UAW is demanding higher pay, improved labor agreements, job security, a shorter work week, restoring pensions, and reinstatement of cost-of-living raises.

Mr. Ford expressed concerns that the Kentucky strike could harm not just the auto industry, but the American economy.

“It hurts the communities that depend on these local economies. If it continues, it will have a major impact on the American economy and devastate local communities. The supply base is very fragile and will start collapsing with an expanded strike,” he said.

“If we lose, America loses. Many jobs will be lost,” he added. “So will future investments. We will lose factories like the one we are in today and communities will suffer greatly.”

Mr. Ford urged UAW members to come together to bring an end to this “acrimonious round of talks” and reach an agreement “so that we can take the fight to the real competition.”

UWA Boss Rejects Ford’s Plea

UAW’s president, Mr. Fain, responded to Mr. Ford’s comments, saying that he should call Ford CEO Jim Farely “and tell him to stop playing games and get a deal done.”

Mr. Farely has said that the union’s demands would bankrupt the company.

The union boss reframed Mr. Ford’s sentiments, saying, “It’s not the UAW and Ford against foreign automakers. It’s autoworkers everywhere against corporate greed.”

“If Ford wants to be the all-American auto company, they can pay all-American wages and benefits. Workers at Tesla, Toyota, Honda, and others are not the enemy—they’re the UAW members of the future,” Mr. Fain said.