Ford: Gettelfinger Should Be Credited For Saving Company

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
ford gettelfinger should be credited for saving company

Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr. told CNBC this week that former United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger “ doesn’t get enough credit for helping save Ford.

Automotive News reports the UAW worked closely with the Blue Oval to avoid the fates that befell Chrysler and General Motors in the run-up to the Great Recession, as Ford Jr. explained in a live interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”:

When our times were darkest in the ’07, ’08, ’09 time frame, the UAW helped our industry get back on its feet, helped Ford get back on its feet. Ron Gettelfinger, the former president of the United Auto Workers, doesn’t get enough credit for helping save Ford.

The chairman went on to say that in the automaker’s darkest hour, he turned to Gettelfinger to “save the Ford Motor Co.” For Ford, this meant concessions by the union, including two-tier wages, overtime pay after 40 hours of work, and giving up vacation time. In turn, the Blue Oval lowered labor cost to $58/hour per employee.

When asked why the UAW was turned away from the South — specifically the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. — Ford, Jr. noted the region’s attitude toward organized labor in general, as well as how the automaker views its workers in comparison:

Surprised? No, because there’s a long history of organizing that didn’t go well in the South. I would say this. We’ve had a great relationship with our workforce. I don’t look at them as union and nonunion but as Ford workers. … We have a lot of second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and even sixth-generation workers at Ford in our company.

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  • Doctor olds Doctor olds on Mar 29, 2014

    Ford is on the money. The 2007 contract is the primary enabler of the profit being generated by all three US makers, thanks to Gettelfinger.

  • Ruggles Ruggles on Mar 29, 2014

    As I recall, Gettlefinger and the UAW had to sign off on an agreement for Chrysler and GM labor costs to achieve parity with the transplants for TARP money to be provided in the form of a loan to bridge the two ailing companies over to the next administration. The UAW signed off. The two tier system is what they came up with the achieve that. If the UAW wants to change that they need to do it within the parity parameters IMHO.

  • Doctor olds Doctor olds on Mar 30, 2014

    @Ruggles- Actually, the 2007 UAW contract followed the practice of "pattern bargaining", applied similarly to all three US makers, and was in place well before the financial crisis induced auto collapse. The VEBA provisions saved GM about $7B/ year net, smaller, but still huge numbers for Ford and Chrysler. Elimination of the Jobs bank saved GM almost another $1B a year, with proportionately smaller savings for the others. The two tier wage provisions were part of that contract as well. These issues comprise the basis for Ford's profitability as well as GM and Chrysler's. The point that deserves repetition, is that all of this took place well before either the $4 gas spike that depressed the market (especially trucks) in early '08, as well as the financial crisis in October. The immense savings of the contract were the basis for GM's board supporting Wagoner. There seemed to be a reasonable shot at making it until the VEBA was to be operational in 2010, but the financial crisis killed that possibility without additional capital.

    • See 1 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Mar 30, 2014

      @alsorl - enlighten me with your years of union experience in the USA auto industry. Odd to be a UAW hump when your avatar is a bicycle. My F150 is an import, how did you know?

  • CJinSD CJinSD on Mar 31, 2014

    If the question is whether or not the left learned anything from the bailouts and bankruptcies, the answer is no.

    • Big L from Chicago Big L from Chicago on Mar 31, 2014

      I am interested in what you on the right have learned from the bailouts and bankruptcies. But please don't include me, a card carrying lefty, in your over-generalizations. If you really want to know what we on the left think, just ask. There is probably a lot of common ground we can agree on, the rest we can disagree about so long as we're not disagreeable about it.