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Bill Ford’s rare speech sheds light on Ford’s standoff with striking autoworkers

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October 16, 2023
By The Associated Press

Ford dealership sign against blue sky. Photo: Adobe Stock
By Tom Krisher

Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford is scheduled to make a rare speech Monday about the future of American manufacturing with the company near an impasse with striking autoworkers.

The speech near the company’s huge pickup truck plant in the company’s hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, is expected to address the monthlong strike by members of the United Auto Workers union.

Last week 8,700 union members walked out at the largest and most profitable Ford plant in the world, the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

After the walkout, a top company executive said on a conference call with reporters that Ford had reached the limit in how much it was willing to spend to end the strike.

Ford announced the speech with a short advisory early on Monday.

Bill Ford is likely to appeal to workers about how the company can’t afford to saddle itself with high labor costs and still be competitive with Tesla and other nonunion automakers with U.S. factories.

The speech comes as the industry is amidst a historic and expensive shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.

UAW President Shawn Fain has said Ford and crosstown rivals General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis are making billions and workers should get a share. He says the workers should be repaid for sacrificing general pay raises, cost of living adjustments and agreeing to lower wage tiers to keep the companies afloat during the Great Recession.

The union began striking at targeted factories on Sept. 15 after its contracts with the companies expired. It started with one assembly plant from each company and later spread to 38 parts warehouses at GM and Jeep maker Stellantis. The UAW later added another assembly plant at GM and Ford.

Last Wednesday Fain made the surprise announcement that the union would walk out at the Kentucky plant, which makes Super Duty pickups and large Ford and Lincoln SUVs.

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