With the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis passing the one month mark recently, both sides continue to jockey for position not only in contract negotiations, but also in the court of public opinion. While things started off amicable enough with Blue Oval chairman Bill Ford dismissing the UAW’s claims that the two sides were “enemies,” and CEO Jim Farley also noted that the company wanted to give its union workers a “record” contract. However, following the UAW’s surprising decision to walk out of the Kentucky Truck plant last week – which has affected 13 other facilities and led to more layoffs – it seems as if Bill Ford, in particular, has changed his tone a bit.
“This should not be Ford versus the UAW,” Ford said while speaking during a press conference this morning dubbed “Remarks On The Future Of American Manufacturing.” “It should be Ford AND the UAW versus Toyota, Honda, Tesla, and all the Chinese companies that want to enter our home market. 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.”
This isn’t the first time FoMoCo has expressed concern about its China-based rivals, as Bill Ford himself previously said that the company “isn’t ready” for Chinese EVs, while Farley recently stated that he considers those same companies to be the company’s main rivals at this point in time, given how far ahead they are in terms of battery technology.
Last week, Kumar Galhotra, head of Ford Blue, said that the automaker had reached its limit regarding what the automaker can offer the union in terms of financials, which is what prompted the sudden walkout at the Kentucky Truck plant. Regardless, two major sticking points remain in discussions between the two sides that have yet to be overcome – the union’s desire to restore the same retirement security that was previously provided by pre-2007 defined benefit pension plans, as well as including existing and future joint-venture EV battery plants in master contracts with automakers.