By on July 31, 2011

The talks about a new labor deal between Ford and the UAW have barely begun, and both sides already utter the dreaded s-word: Strike.

“The last thing we want to do is incur a strike,” said Marty Malloy, Ford’s vice president for labor affairs, when the talks started. “We work great with the UAW.”

UAW’s Bob King answered: “I don’t think about strikes. We don’t collectively think about strikes.”  According to Reuters, the UAW might seek the members’ permission to strike, but King said that was routine and had been done many times in the past.

So why pull out the s-word when the talks have just begun?

Ford is the only automaker where the UAW can strike. At GM or Chrysler, there is a no strike clause.

Also, there is an interesting piece of new math.

Malloy said Ford’s total costs were about $58 an hour per hourly worker, $8 more than its foreign rivals.

King has different numbers. But “we would respectfully do our math a little bit differently, but we’ll talk about that at the bargaining table.”

Amazing. Didn’t we hear that they work at near slave labor wages down South, and now they are only 8 bucks apart?  And if King has different numbers, then that can only mean that he thinks Ford’s labor costs are closer to the foreigners.

Interesting, interesting.



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32 Comments on “The UAW Brandishes The S-Word...”

  • avatar

    The headline is a factual distortion. According to the article, it was a Ford corporate employee that first mentioned strikes, not the UAW. The headline intimates that the UAW threatened Ford with strikes, or at least brought up the subject first.

    Otherwise, it’s obviously in Ford’s best interest to exaggerate their hourly labor costs, and to play down those of the competition. I fail to see how a Ford manager would know the total labor costs of a competitor anyway, in a meaningful sense.

    • 0 avatar

      “I fail to see how a Ford manager would know the total labor costs of a competitor anyway, in a meaningful sense.”

      Really? You don’t see how Ford’s vice president for labor affairs would have a pretty good idea of what his non-unionized competitors pay their employees while dealing with the UAW?

      • 0 avatar

        Labor per hour is only part of it. The other parts include, how many units per worker get put out; how much equipment AND ITS COST to make that productivity happen; other factors such as men on standby or furlough; benefits; any other costs to keep the line running.

        A company could, hypothetically, have a large production run with a smaller number of line employees through robotics. But the per car, per man cost of operating the line might be quite high and not competitive.

        With unemployment at thirty-year records, the UAW will be making a mistake if they think they can strike. Keeping replacements off the property or preventing removal of equipment would and will turn bloody…and they will get little sympathy from the one-fifth of the nation that’s unemployed or underemployed.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s right, labor per hour is only part of it. And in that sense Ford, and every other auto maker who produces in Mexico, has been a lot more profitable with their operations in Mexico than they have with their UAW operations in the US.

        The UAW has to do what it thinks is best for themselves and their members. In the end it is up to the buying public, the individual customer, to decide where they stand on the issue.

        If you support the UAW then it is only natural to buy UAW-made vehicles. But if you don’t support the arguments of the UAW, then you buy non-UAW made vehicles, including Fords made in Mexico.

        It’s a stretch to think that most Americans who were opposed to bail outs, hand outs and nationalization, would support the UAW in their quest for more money from the US automakers, especially since the tax payers bailed out the UAW, their pension fund and two of their failed employers. The UAW is playing with fire here.

        Then again, the UAW policies of the past are what got us two failed US car makers and a bunch of former UAW members who were bargained out of their jobs. Job bank, anyone?

  • avatar

    Over 14 million Americans out of work?

  • avatar

    Ford has more money than GM or Chrysler (and the latter two are part union-owned, anyway) so the UAW will want to squeeze every possible drop of blood out of FoMoCo. And wouldn’t the rank-and-file think August a good month to take the opportunity to head off for two or three weeks at a northern Michigan lake? They do get strike benefits, right?

  • avatar

    Malloy said Ford’s total costs were about $58 an hour per hourly worker, $8 more than its foreign rivals.

    I hope the UAW strikes until Big Al takes a pay package that puts himself in-line with the CEOs of the “foreign rivals”.

    Otherwise…Ford needs to STFU about what workers at the transplants makes.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting take. Alan Mulally’s pay and bonuses this year are a total VALUE (not cash, as a majority of that is in stock options and perks) of about two million dollars.

      Total employment at Ford is given at 164,000.

      Make Alan work for free, and that gives every employee a TWELVE DOLLAR bonus. That worth a strike?

      And of course, Alan will find another job. Offer the CEO $20,000…and you’ll get the kind of CEO that’s driven Ford and other companies into the toilet in the past.

      CEO pay is too much for ya? A CEO is worth nothing? What was the difference between Chrysler 1978 and Chrysler 1985?

      Put aside your churlish covetousness. Your paycheck is between you and whoever signs it. So is Alan’s; the Ford Board of Directors decided he’s worth what he’s paid; and his pay is the shareholders’ concern. No one else’s.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s the principal. If the dictator of the company is having his minions say (factual) things like Malloy said Ford’s total costs were about $58 an hour per hourly worker, $8 more than its foreign rivals., then he should be willing to lead by example.

        To not do that would not only be arrogant, but it would give us a clear view to the character (or lack of) of Big Al.

        If greater pay is good enough for the dictator, then why isn’t it for the people below him?

        It goes back to the old adage…don’t ask anyone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

        Sure, the sheep will say things like “well…big Al is the reason Ford didn’t have to take a government bailout (yet they did) and he kept Ford out of C.11.” But they can’t prove that…and that’s a pretty poor reason on it’s own. You should do your best regardless of compensation.

        Big Al is severely overpaid….and I bet that he want’s his workers to make less money so that his outrageous compensation package stays as bloated as it is.

      • 0 avatar

        I never understood how employees come to think that they are worth as much pay as the CEO and other company officers. Employees are only entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Nothing more, nothing less.

        And judging from the quality of work that the UAW delivered in the past, they weren’t worth what they got paid then.

        It’s bad enough that the government now mandates what employers must provide for their employees.

    • 0 avatar

      I do think that in general the difference in CEO vs. average employee salary is too large, but when a CEO is leading his company to profitability and stability, I can see some leeway there. Since Ford is pulling in profits of over $1 billion per quarter, and Mulally was able to keep Ford as the only US automaker that didn’t have to beg the government for cash to stay solvent, and then declare bankruptcy anyway, he’s earned his pay.

      Now all of those bank CEOs that drove their businesses into the ground on risky investments and then rerouted government bailout money into executive bonuses on the other hand…

      • 0 avatar

        There is a recourse.

        If you think a business is being poorly run…don’t patronize it. Don’t bank at those bailed-out banks (and tell your Congresscretin you don’t appreciate the handouts, but that’s another issue). Don’t buy a Ford if you think the Ford CEO is overpaid.

        Or, conversely, buy Ford stock. That gives you votes in how the corporation is run…proportional to your investment.

        But to stand on the sidelines, knowing nothing of the workings of the business but mad with envy…is beyond pathetic. It’s not for nothing that envy was labeled a Deadly Sin….

    • 0 avatar

      So, Z71_Silvy, your position is Big Al should be paid what the CEOs of “foreign rivals” (whatever that means) are paid?

      Go ahead and list the CEOs that pulled off what Alan did , especially since 2008, in terms we can all understand like debt repayment, market share, product development, and most importantly stock price.

      I think the board and stockholders can decide what his pay package is and everyone else can “STFU”.

      • 0 avatar

        So, Z71_Silvy, your position is Big Al should be paid what the CEOs of “foreign rivals” (whatever that means) are paid?


        Go ahead and list the CEOs that pulled off what Alan did , especially since 2008, in terms we can all understand like debt repayment, market share, product development, and most importantly stock price.

        Why does that matter…at all? I can name MANY companies that never had to take loans to stay afloat. I can name MANY companies that never leveraged their own logo to stay afloat. I can name MANY companies that made it through the current recession just fine.

        You people that hold this goof as some sort of saint is astonishing. “Saint” Al did very little at Ford…..Ford is benefiting from unwarranted resentment from the sheep like public towards GM and Chrysler. Ford’s products are no better than before, the culture inside the company is no different (ie, “who cares if the product isn’t finished, just get it out”), and they are building some of the most boring, mediocre, and overrated vehicles on the planet…and thay are not all that successful.

      • 0 avatar

        Silvy, never take loans? You may want to rephrase that so it makes a little more sense. I suppose in your mind, bankruptcy is a better business practice than to borrow money? Taxpayer bailouts are better than loaNS? I hope you never get to run a company, if you do it’s doomed.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Didn’t they get back into profit-sharing?

    Mr. King, please strike, especially against the only profitable non-bankruptcy American manufacturer. I think it will be a brilliant move, and rekindle the passion, fires, and influence the UAW frittered away so long ago.


  • avatar

    In general I’m in support of unions. The preservation of the middle class, with fair pay for workers and comprehensive benefits, is important for the long term health of our nation’s economy.

    I hope that Mr. King realizes how lucky the UAW members currently are however. With widespread unemployment and both government and private sector employees having to take wage and/or benefit cuts across the country, the current deal the average UAW member gets is pretty sweet. I doubt the UAW was the major factor in the implosion of GM or Chrysler, but it was a factor.

    If Mr. King and the UAW leaders have any foresight they will see that negotiating a deal that keeps Ford healthy so that they can continue to earn their wages and take advantage of their health insurance and pentions is more important in the long run that gaining any short term concessions that may lead the company to have to move more production out of the country or fire US workers just to stay afloat.

    • 0 avatar

      I still believe that as long as Ford continues with its plants in the US they are going to be saddled with the UAW. Ford would do well to consider moving more plants to Mexico and positively affect their bottom line.

      Although not a popular idea with the UAW and unemployed Americans, Ford’s production in Mexico is a boon for shareholders. If the UAW wants a piece of the action, let them buy shares and become shareholders. That’s profit sharing at its best!

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the monopoly power of unions has largely forced manufacturing out of the USA. Unions did not create the middle class but they do transfer income from all classes to their members.

      Those Mexican plants allow the high-priced UAW plants to exist. For now.

      If one wonders why the US manufacturers so decontented their products the current UAW grasp for money shows why. Money that should have gone into product was siphoned off.

      Union monopolies, like any other, should not be allowed, except in one instance, “company towns”.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow, that must be why Germany is still #2 for exports and was #1 until last year!

        Oh wait, no, labor in Germany is extensively unionized. The relationship between the union and management just isn’t completely dysfunctional the way it is with the UAW, that’s all.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not because of unions. Germany IS the best engineering nation in the world. Ahead of Japan, even. The US is a distant 4th with Korea now 3rd. Soon the Chinese will overtake Amerika which will simply become a has been turned bread basket.

        If anything Germany’s exports would be far more competitive without expensive union labor.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes. When it ocmes to reliability they can’t match the Japs without a whole lot of moolah (although Daimler-Benz easily made the Japanese eat dust back then.) But Japan can’t match them in excitement even with a whole lot of moolah *cough*LFA*cough*

        Who do you think supplies most of the precision mechanicals used in China’s factories? And Airbus is the biggest aircraft maker which is owned by EADS which is owned 22% by Daimler. You don’t even rule weaponry now. BAE of Britain is the biggest defense contractor in the world. America should just stick to cloud computing and animated penguin films. lol

    • 0 avatar

      eldard, I am not sure what you mean by that. Germany produces cars that fill the lower half of the reliability chart, electronics (Siemens TV anyone?) that most people have no interest in buying, and first rate aircrafts (oh, wait, that’s the lowly USA).

  • avatar

    If the UAW wants another $10,000,000,000 payday they need to drive Ford into bankruptcy before the next election.

  • avatar

    My thoughts are too “political” to actually post BUT…..

    Let’s equalize the playing field.

    Blue-collar often competes with millions of “entrants.”

    How about allowing a horde of higher-educated “entrants” to enter and compete with the “better class” of USA worker?

    Supply/demand. Fairness. Equality.

    Market demand.


    I bet there is a chap or two in India as or more qualified than any potential CEO in the USA.

    • 0 avatar

      Management is being challenged ALL THE TIME. There is no security there; a person stands on the quality of his work or the dedication and security of his sponsor. Remember, again, Ford 1978? Iacocca got sacked and hundreds of other managers, assistants and drones were either fired, pressured to quit, or left in fear.

      At root is the different nature of the work. Subtle differences in how a manager works, can greatly influence how effective he is. Both John Riccardo and Lee Iacocca showed up for work every day; played golf Saturdays…but how they did what they both did was the difference between failure and success for Chrysler.

      No such “sensitivity” is required for a line worker. One may be introspective and given to deep readings; another might be a loud moron given to drunkenness on his day off. But the job is, hang the fender…hang the next fender…hang the NEXT fender.

      With training, any of a large number of people can do it. It’s why the union has fought for job security…rightly so.

      There have been quite a few foreigners making inroads in American corporate boardrooms. That there haven’t been more, is because there aren’t enough obvious talents out there to warrant deposing entrenched, successful managers…with the lawsuits, threatened lawsuits, and golden-parachute costs that would entail.

      • 0 avatar


        powered entrenched elites assisting each other, class-based, good-old-buddy systems.

        Seen in every system; politics, etc.

        Love it or leave it.

        Or change it.

        But, those at a certain level has xtra power.

        Ponder who the jack-booted thugs protect.

        At a macro-level Buffet’s quote is appropriate;

        “There’s class warfare, all right, Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

        Used as few words as possible to make a point.

        No intent with altering or denying the above viewpoint/opinion.

        Communication regarding complex topics extremely difficult with written words.

      • 0 avatar


        There’s classes, all right. Every society has them. The “classless” Utopias have turned out to have all but the Elites thrust into the lower class, the peon-serf-peasant class, with no hope of escape.

        You may not have noticed; but our class system is mobile. You want out of your class? Find something else to do that pays better. Get the training you need to do it. You can do it with resources available.

        It ain’t that way in Workers’ Utopias. There you’re ASSIGNED your level, and there you stay. Unless you get a sponsor out of the Elite Class.

        Abuse of power? What, is the money paid to an exec, by rights belonging to the guys on the line? Why them, and not the guys who DESIGNED the product; or the guys whose investment PAID for the place to work? Where’s respect for THEIR equity?

        The CEO makes it all happen. What he gets paid is according to his betters. Now, do you want guys on the sidewalk deciding that YOU are paid too much? Why not you, if it’s okay for Alan Mulally? The sword cuts both ways; and you may find, in your People’s Revolution, that guys like Mulally have more friends with more power than you or your Union Griever.

        Your mind is closed; I understand that. Closed and probably irrevocably altered by various illicit substances, if one can judge by your one-word utterances posted as wisdom. I’m writing this for those who might just confuse your altered state with wisdom.




  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    What I find apalling is the fact that nobody’s mentioned something even more salient than the s-word and that is the u-word. Unfair.

    Why is it “fair” for Ford Motor Company, a taxpaying organization, and the rest of us who pay taxes to be forced to bail out GM and Chrysler – after which huge losses are incurred and after which Chrysler is essentially “given” to foreigners? Much of this in deference to the UAW who tend to vote for one particular political party.

    On top of which the most unfair cut of all – the fact that GM and Chrysler’s UAW “contracts” have a no-strike clause while Ford’s does not.

    Perhaps if Ford were smart, they’d concentrate their engineering and development in this country, and if this unlevel playing field persists, they’d be smarter to close down UAW plants and have suppliers set-up contract plants in the south to assemble product.

    Then the advantage would be theirs instead of GM’s and Crisis-ler’s.

  • avatar

    I hope they strike. Death to the Birch 3!

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