While the United Auto Workers’ contract seems to be a done deal for all three Detroit-based automakers, Ford is the only brand that’s issued any formal statements on ratification thus far. But there’s not much to pick apart in the release. The company avoided opportunities to promote itself as the brand that seemed most willing to accommodate the UAW and only brushed against assertions that paying workers more would add to its operational costs.
It was still a corporate press release, however, and came with plenty of the usual trappings. Ford wanted to make sure readers understand it believes all the things they do, and always has, without getting too specific into exactly what that means.
But it wasn’t entirely empty and came directly from the Ford President and CEO Jim Farley. The executive again hinted that it’s interested in addressing quality control while reminding everyone that new products are forthcoming. Suggestions that the new labor agreement would result in higher operating costs may also be paving the way for the company to try and rationalize subsequent price bumps.
From Ford President and CEO Jim Farley:
“We are pleased the agreement has been ratified and we are very happy for our more than 57,000 UAW-represented employees and their families. Ford believes in rewarding all of our people and growing the middle class in America — and we have shown that with our actions over many years.
Now, we are getting back to work as one Ford team. Thankfully, we are on track to reach full production schedules in the coming days at our assembly plants in Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois that were affected during the strike. I’m excited to personally get out to as many of our plants and operations as possible in the coming weeks and months to spend time with our teams who build our vehicles.
Ford is America’s No. 1 brand again and we want to build on that in 2024. We are entering one of our biggest-ever new product launch years in the U.S. We need to deliver these new vehicles on time and with top quality. This is critical!! I am talking about [the] new Ranger and Ranger Raptor. New F-150 and F-150 Raptor. New Expedition. New Explorer. New Lincoln Navigator and new Lincoln Aviator. All told, we are refreshing about half of our U.S. volume in 2024. We are also working flat out on our next generation of electric vehicles and software platforms.
It’s also imperative that we continue to attack cost and waste throughout our operations. The reality is that this labor agreement added significant cost, and we are going to have to work very hard on productivity and efficiency to become more competitive.”
We’ll see where it all leads. For now, Ford leadership seems to be signaling business as usual and downplaying it having been slightly more affable toward the UAW than its main rivals. I’m not sure what the strategy is there beyond avoiding conflict with people who aren’t fond of the union. But the blade cuts both ways and it’s not likely to take any more heat or praise than General Motors or Stellantis for having reached a deal, as they’re all very similar to each other.
At the very least, the executive statement officially settles contract negotiations between Ford and the UAW for the foreseeable future.
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]
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