Ford Chairman Bill Ford calls for deal to end UAW strike

By Joseph White and David Shepardson

DEARBORN, Michigan (Reuters) – Ford executive chairman Bill Ford on Monday urged the United Auto Workers union to end a 32-day strike and reach a new labor agreement, and warned of the growing impact to the automaker and the U.S. economy.

“We can stop this now,” Ford said of the strike that expanded last week to shut down the Kentucky Truck plant. “I call on UAW colleagues … We need to come together to bring an end to this acrimonious round of talks.”

More than 34,000 union members working at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler parent Stellantis are out on strike and Ford has furloughed 2,480 other workers, citing impacts of the strike.

Ford, the great grandson of company founder Henry Ford, said Toyota, Honda, Tesla and other automakers “are loving this strike because they know the longer it goes on, the better it is for them.”

The UAW did not immediately comment on Ford’s remarks.

The UAW’s walkout at Kentucky Truck, Ford’s largest and most profitable assembly operation globally, “harms tens of thousands of American workers,” Ford said. “If it continues, it will have a major impact on the American economy.”

On Friday, UAW President Shawn Fain accused Ford of trying to game the talks with inadequate offers and insisted Ford sharply boost compensation.

Referring to Ford CEO Jim Farley’s lucrative pay package, Fain said Farley should “go get the big checkbook – the one Ford uses when it wants to spend millions on company executives or Wall Street giveaways.”

Fain also vowed to strike additional plants at any time.

On Thursday, a senior Ford executive said the automaker was “at the limit” of what it can spend on higher wages and benefits for the UAW. Its latest offer includes a 23% wage hike through early 2028. The company has said the UAW’s proposals would have meant bankruptcy if implemented in 2019.

Ford has long portrayed himself and his family’s company as the most union friendly in the industry, a message he repeated Monday.

The union has called Ford “the enemy,” Ford said. “It should be Ford and the UAW against Toyota, Honda, Tesla and all the Chinese companies” that want to enter the U.S, market, he added.

(Reporting by Joseph White in Dearborn; writing by David Shepardson; Editing by Franklin Paul and Grant McCool)