Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford called for an end to the month-long UAW strike over the weekend, saying that if the strike continues it could jeopardize Ford's ability to invest in the future.
Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, spoke during contract talks in Dearborn, Michigan, and warned that paying higher labor costs could affect the company's ability to create new vehicles.
"It’s the absolute lifeblood of our company. And if we lose it, we will lose to the competition. America loses. Many jobs will be lost."
The strike widened last week when 8,700 workers walked off the job at a Ford truck plant in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ford said the strikes are now affecting parts suppliers and vehicle dealers. He said a continued strike could collapse the supply chain the industry depends on to make new vehicles.
Ford is the largest employer of UAW workers in the big three. It employs 57,000 UAW members compared to 46,000 at GM, the next largest employer.
Striking UAW workers want increased wages to offset inflation, and improvement of retirement and other benefits. Ford workers on the picket line said Ford Motor Co.'s wage offer so far barely offsets the effects of inflation from the last few years.
Ford has offered a 23% increase to wages over four years, and is bringing back cost-of-living raises. But union leadership has called the offer insufficient.
If the impasse continues, it could cost automakers and their employees billions of dollars.
Overall, according to a Monday report by the Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group, LLC, the UAW strike may have now caused roughly $7.7 billion in losses for automakers, workers and certain connected industries.
The big three automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis are thought to have lost some $3.45 billion, while other equipment manufacturers and suppliers may have also seen billions of dollars in lost business.
Anderson Economic Group says a fifth week of the strike is a "danger zone" that could have even more significant effects.
"Without a settlement soon, a plausible restart with higher costs will likely lead to some permanent losses of production, and suppliers that will need financial assistance to return to operation," the group wrote in its report.
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