HomeBusinessFord CEO rejects criticism from UAW leader as Thursday strike deadline approaches

Ford CEO rejects criticism from UAW leader as Thursday strike deadline approaches

  • Ford CEO Jim Farley rejected comments Thursday night from United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain that the company is not taking the deal seriously.
  • Farley said the company has not received “any genuine counteroffers” on its four economic proposals.
  • The UAW is simultaneously negotiating separate national contracts ahead of Thursday’s strike deadline at 11:59 pm ET with automakers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

Ford CEO Jim Farley speaks to the media after revealing the 2024 Ford F-150 for the Detroit Auto Show on September 12, 2023.

Michael Wayland/CNBC

DETROIT – Ford engine CEO Jim Farley rejected comments from United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain that the company did not take negotiation seriously ahead of a Thursday night strike deadline, blaming the union leader for failing to come to the bargaining table, both figuratively and literally.

Farley said the company has not received “any genuine counteroffers” on its four economic proposals, including the latest offer that Ford calls the most generous offer ever made between the UAW and the company. He also said that Fain, who is simultaneously negotiating with General Motors and Stellarhe was absent during a Tuesday meeting that he and Ford President Bill Ford expected Fain to attend.

“We’re here, we’re ready to negotiate, but it’s certainly hard to negotiate a contract when there’s nobody to negotiate with,” Farley told reporters Wednesday night on the sidelines of the conference call. Detroit Auto Show. “We have time left, but it is difficult to negotiate when you don’t receive any response.”

Farley’s comments came about 24 hours after he told reporters on Tuesday that he was optimistic the company could reach an agreement with the union.

Public criticism between the union and an automaker is unprecedented, but the amount of details being published, strike plans announced and simultaneous negotiation are certainly.

Farley said he didn’t know Fain had received the offer until he was discussing it during a 5pm Facebook live with union members. He also questioned whether Fain is too busy “planning strikes or PR events and we can’t get feedback to make the best offer.”

UAW President Shawn Fain chairs the 2023 Special Election Collective Bargaining Convention in Detroit, March 27, 2023.

Rebeca cooking | Reuters

A UAW spokesman did not immediately respond to comment on Farley’s comments or a letter released on his behalf by the company that countered many of Fain’s criticisms.

The union has argued that the companies are aware of their demands. They include: ambitious goals of 40% hourly wage increases, a reduced 32-hour work week, a return to traditional pensions, the elimination of compensation tiers, and the restoration of cost-of-living adjustments, among other elements.

Farley declined to directly respond to a question about whether he believes the union is bargaining in good faith, which could warrant a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.

The UAW at the end of last month filed unfair labor practice charges against GM and Stellantis before the NLRB for failing to negotiate with the union in good faith or in a timely manner. He did not file a complaint against Ford.

As released Thursday by the union, Ford’s most recent proposal included some, but not all, of the union’s demands. It included salary increases of 20%; a “poor” restoration of the cost-of-living adjustment, a reworked profit-sharing formula; 90-day progression for “temporary” or supplemental workers to become regular employees; and other benefits such as increased vacation days and two weeks of paid parental leave.

Fain said Ford and his city rivals rejected the union’s proposals for retirees and health care.

If the UAW and the companies can’t reach an agreement by Thursday’s 11:59 pm ET deadline, Fain said the union will implement selective strikes at certain plants against Detroit automakers.

During his Facebook event, Fain said he believed Strikes against companies are “likely.”

“To win, we will probably have to take action. Just as we have approached our negotiations differently than in the past, we are preparing to attack these companies in a way they have never seen before,” Fain. saying.

Here is the full text of Farley’s letter following Fain’s comments:

The Ford team continues to put 100% of our energy into reaching an agreement with the UAW that rewards our valued employees and allows the company to invest in the future. If there is a strike, it’s not because Ford hasn’t made a great offer. We have and that is what we can control.

In fact, we’ve put four offers on the table as of August 29 and each one has been increasingly generous. We have not yet received any genuine counteroffers.

On Tuesday, Bill Ford and I sat down with the union at the top table to present a major offer. As we walked through the room, we learned that President Fain would not be attending. However, Bill and I presented a historically generous offer to the UAW Ford bargaining team because we listened to the UAW’s demands and cared about our employees. Here are the facts. Ford:

• Significantly increased our proposal for salary increases;
• Offered cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs;
• Total elimination of salary tiers so that all employees can achieve industry-leading salaries, and reducing the time it takes hourly employees to reach maximum salary from eight years to four years;
• Increased contributions to retirement savings in progress;
• Protected health care benefits that would continue to rank in the top 1% of all employer-sponsored health plans with the lowest cost sharing for employees; and
• Added more paid time off, with up to five weeks of vacation and 17 paid holidays each year (with the addition of Juneteenth).

The first we heard about President Fain receiving the offer was on Facebook Live this afternoon. We are here again and ready to reach an agreement. We should work creatively to solve difficult problems instead of planning strikes and public relations events.

Remember that Ford, more than any other company, has stood by the UAW and treated it with respect. We have been incredibly supportive of the union. We have gone far beyond any contract language in adding jobs and investments.

The future of our industry is at stake. Let’s do everything we can to avoid a disastrous outcome.

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