Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford says the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) ongoing strike should be focused on defending America’s manufacturing jobs against Chinese companies and other foreign competitors.
During a speech at the Ford Rouge Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford made a populist pitch to striking auto workers, stating that Ford Motor Co. is not the enemy of the union but rather on the side of American workers and American manufacturing fighting foreign interests, including automakers like General Motors (GM) with significant Chinese investment.
Ford employs the most UAW members, 57,000, of the Big Three. GM employs 46,000 and Stellantis employs 43,000.
“A strong manufacturing base is critical to our national security. Building things in America matters now more than ever, especially in these uncertain times. We cannot take that for granted,” Ford said:
In my lifetime, I have watched countries lose their auto industry, and then virtually all industries after that. Countries that once had vibrant industrial bases no longer make anything. They have become dependent on others for critical products, aspects of their supply chain, and even national defense. [Emphasis added]
Today, as the UAW strike against Ford continues, we are at a crossroads. Choosing the right path is not just about Ford’s future and our ability to compete. This is about the future of the American automobile industry. [Emphasis added]
The UAW’s leaders have called us the enemy in these negotiations. But I will never consider our employees as enemies. This should not be Ford versus the UAW. It should be Ford and the UAW vs. Toyota and Honda, Tesla, and all the Chinese companies that want to enter our home market. 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. [Emphasis added]
The UAW strike has highlighted two of the nation’s leading issues for working and middle class American communities: Record inflation under President Joe Biden and the administration’s Electric Vehicle (EV) mandates at all costs.
Auto workers are asking for higher wages to keep up with the cost of living as well as commitments that their jobs will not be outsourced to China as a result of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which promises to shower automakers with billions in tax credits for moving toward EVs and away from gas-powered vehicles.
China, today, controls much of the EV supply chain.
Ford said investment in the U.S. is more critical than ever before and that American communities will suffer if domestic manufacturing is lost to the likes of China and its multinational corporate allies.
“This is why Ford’s ability to invest in the future is not just a talking point. It’s the absolute lifeblood of our company. And if we lose it, we will lose to the competition. America loses,” Ford said. “Many jobs will be lost. So will future investments. We will lose factories like the one we are in today and communities will suffer greatly.”
Ford also touted Ford Motor Co.’s long-running history of being the most pro-UAW automaker in the U.S. and the one most committed to manufacturing in America. For instance, when GM and Chrysler took billion-dollar bailouts from American taxpayers back in 2008, Ford did not. Likewise, Ford continues to employ the most UAW members.
Without calling out GM and Stellantis by name, Ford noted that his competitors “moved jobs to Mexico” as his company “added jobs here in the U.S.”
“I have not spoken publicly since these negotiations began but I believe I have a unique perspective to share. I am the longest-serving leader in our industry. I have been part of every negotiation since 1982 and have worked with every UAW leader from Doug Fraser to Ron Gettelfinger and Bob King,” Ford said:
I have also been the most pro-union leader in our industry. On my watch, Ford is the only automaker to have added UAW jobs over the past 15 years. We employ more UAW workers than any other automaker. We assemble more vehicles here in the U.S. than anybody else, including 100% of our F-Series trucks. Many of our competitors moved jobs to Mexico as we added jobs here in the U.S. [Emphasis added]
Ford is the strongest partner the UAW has ever known. These are choices we made, and it has added costs to our business in an industry that is extraordinarily competitive. But it aligns with my personal values, the values of our company and our history. We believe in building in America. [Emphasis added]
Every set of negotiations has been challenging. But at the end of the day, we always recognized that we are all Ford, and we will succeed or fail together. We know how vital the UAW is to the success of our company, and we want our employees to do well. We did not wait for the current contract talks to create thousands of jobs, or to invest billions of dollars beyond what was required by the letter of a deal. We agree that our UAW colleagues deserve even more. That’s why we have offered a record contract which would make our UAW employees among the best-paid manufacturing workers in the world. [Emphasis added]
Ford asked UAW leaders to end the strike, saying “I call on my great UAW colleagues … we need to come together to bring an end to this acrimonious round of talks.”
Ford also referenced the Ford Motor Company’s historic River Rouge Complex, known as “The Rouge,” which was built nearly 100 years ago by his great-grandfather Henry Ford and was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1978 in recognition of its seminal importance to the history of American manufacturing.
The Rouge, Ford said, is proof of his company’s commitment to American manufacturing as it remains operating today despite calls to close it down. Ford described the iconic manufacturing complex as “the crown jewel of a company that still believes building in America matters.”
“It is a living history of how we have endured every crisis the world has thrown at us and come out stronger together,” Ford said:
[The Rouge] is where we built so many of our iconic models through the years and, when called upon by our country, helped democracy prevail in two World Wars by building boats, tank parts, and jet engines. [Emphasis added]
When an explosion here took the lives of several of our employees, we got through those hard months as a family. When the pandemic upended our lives, factories like this one allowed us to turn on a dime to make lifesaving PPE for frontline workers. [Emphasis added]
A couple decades ago, some executives wanted to shut down the Rouge. They thought it was just a rusting relic of another era. I said no. Instead, we turned it into the most environmentally advanced plant in the industry. Today it assembles America’s favorite vehicle, the F-150, and the F-150 Lightning. The Rouge is the crown jewel of a company that still believes building in America matters. Automobile plants like the Rouge have created countless well-paying manufacturing jobs and a thriving middle class. They have become the foundation of our communities and the Midwest cities that we know and love. [Emphasis added]
In response, UAW President Shawn Fain threatened to have auto workers at the Rouge go on strike which would stop production in its tracks. Fain also claimed the UAW will eventually unionize auto workers at foreign car-makers.
“Bill Ford knows exactly how to settle this strike. Instead of threatening to close the Rouge, he should call up [Ford CEO] Jim Farley, tell him to stop playing games and get a deal done, or we’ll close the Rouge for him,” Fain said in a statement.
“It’s not the UAW and Ford against foreign automakers,” he continued. “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.”
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.