Ford CEO: 'Still optimistic' but ready in case of auto strike
Ford's CEO said Tuesday night that he was still optimistic of averting a looming strike, but that "there is a limit" to what the company can accept.
"We're optimistic we can work through it in the next 48 hours," Jim Farley said of contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
"We're absolutely ready for a strike and I know the UAW is too but we don't want it to come," Farley told reporters following a launch event at the Detroit Auto Show.
Ford and fellow Detroit auto giants General Motors and Stellantis have been locked in tough negotiations with the UAW over a new four-year contract.
New UAW President Shawn Fain has said the union could call strikes at all three companies if they fail to reach a tentative labor agreement by the Thursday night deadline.
Farley said Ford had earlier Tuesday made a third offer to the UAW that he called a "significant enhancement," and the "most generous" in the company's 80 years with the UAW.
The package includes pay increases, inflation protection measures, 17 paid holidays and bigger contributions toward retirement.
But the company "has to protect... future investments and the profitability of the company," Farley said. "We're literally fighting for the future of automotive manufacturing in our country."
Farley flagged Fain's demand for a 32-hour workweek, or a four-day workweek, as "not containable," adding that "there is a line in the sand for the sustainability of the company."
Company staff will work "all day and night for the next 48 hours" to reach a deal, Farley said.
Farley's remarks came after Ford unveiled its newest F-150 pickup trucks, which the company calls "America's truck" because it is assembled entirely in the United States and has been the country's most popular vehicle for more than four decades.
The announcements included a doubling of production of the hybrid F-150, which has comprised 10 percent of output. The move follows a jump in hybrid sales, which have risen 33 percent in the last three months compared with the same period a year ago, said John Emmert, general manager for Ford North American trucks.
Hybrids are a good option for people who are interested in electric vehicles "but do not have the right circumstances," Emmert said, noting some buyers may live in areas that lack EV charging infrastructure.
© 2023 AFP