By on September 8, 2017

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Prior to outlining Ford Motor Company’s new strategy to financial analysts and corporate investors, CEO Jim Hackett wants to check-in with leadership from the United Automobile Workers. Hackett has been undertaking a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points — established during Mark Fields’ executive tenure — with a mind to reevaluate the status quo.

However, before he announces his new vision for the company to Wall Street, Hackett is giving the UAW a peek. Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot. 

“Normally, it’s the other way around, if it happens at all,” Settles explained to Bloomberg on Wednesday. “Then people know that I care about you. You’re hearing it from me. You don’t have to hear about it from the media.”

Despite Ford having made plans to lay off roughly 10 percent of its workforce last month, Settles and UAW President Dennis Williams seemed pleased that Hackett had indicated no loss in union employment.

“He said, ‘Look here, my review is not to see how many heads I can cut.’ He made that perfectly clear,” Settles said of a recent meeting with Hackett. “He’s looking for innovation. We talked about upscaling. The jobs of today may not be the jobs of tomorrow, but let’s talk about that in advance.”

Hackett is expected to elaborate on Ford’s intention to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles and boost the company’s sagging stock in a meeting with analysts and investors in New York next month. Settles says Hackett should be sharing some of those details with the UAW first — perhaps not everything but enough to give them a sense of what is to come.

“I hope he outlines the vision, the long-term vision,” Settles said. “Our members want to hear that. People want to feel secure.”

Ford’s share price fell 37 percent during Fields’s three years at the helm. It was the primary reason Hackett was tapped to replace him. As the former CEO of office furniture maker Steelcase Inc., he’s still getting accustomed to the automotive landscape but Settles indicated he wasn’t worried about his background.

“Hackett is obviously not a car man, but he knows manufacturing and seems to be very, very innovative,” he explained. “It seems when Bill Ford personally goes out and picks people, they seem to be the right people.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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21 Comments on “Ford CEO Shares Vision With UAW Before Wall Street Gets a Look at the Goods...”

  • avatar

    Interesting post. This line caught my attention

    “Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot.”

    Where are Ford customers placed in that equation?

    True or not “Quality is Job #1 had a nicer ring”.

    • 0 avatar

      Customers? What are those?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, since Jimmy works for the Union, not Ford, his main concern is with the workers. He does not speak for the CEO.

      Is it your contention that the CEO should tell his plans first to customers, then the union, and lastly, the investors? Is he to go around to every Ford owner and explain it to them individually? How would this possibly help anyone or anything?

      I guess this explains why you’re not the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. If you were, it wouldn’t be for long.

      • 0 avatar

        “So, Mrs Gurtrude Smith of Rome, Georgia, thanks for hearing my 3 hour plan of how I will solve the issues plaguing the company you patronized in 2008 when you bought your Mercury Milan. Now, I’ll let you get back to your bingo game. Can you ask Alberto Gonzales to come in next? He has a 2010 F-150 and I need to tell him my plan.”

    • 0 avatar

      Volvo, if this were a marketing move, you might have a point. Since it’s an attempt to improve relations with their workers, your argument doesn’t have much merit. If you don’t make your employees a priority, you can’t serve your customers.

  • avatar

    I hate speculating, but I hope the vision pays down some debt. I also hope the vision involves following up with customers, like myself, one year after purchase to see what can be improved.

  • avatar

    I read this as suggesting there’s some big moves with regards to labor coming up, and he wants the Union on board before he goes to the Board.

    Ford’s playing a lot of chess with its programs and plants lately, wonder if some of those programs are going to jump around a bit.

  • avatar

    Treating workers as equal partners is an important part of what has made German and Japanese companies so successful.

    It’s encouraging to see an overture like this to the UAW and it’s members, I hope there’s real substance behind it rather than the happy talk cliche’s that most corporations engage in.

  • avatar

    UAW Ford. UAW GM.
    Hum- Why is the UAW placed first.?
    The UAW is a hindrance to improving the product, cost and timeliness of the PRODUCT!
    They work harder at screwing off than work.
    I know. I was a skilled trades supervisor at GM in Powertrain and Assy. facilities.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had nothing but pleasant interactions with the UAW. Every UAW member I’ve worked with has been extremely pleasant and helpful, assuming you don’t approach them as an arrogant salaried know-it-all.

      UNIFOR? They’re “bad-old-days” tough. But UAW? My biggest issue has been all the paperwork it takes to get hourly labor for work.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m a former 36 + UAW/CAW member. Its all a fading memory now.

        “assuming you don’t approach them as an arrogant salaried know-it-all” I would like to add the word “condescending’ to that quote ..

        I have witnessed numerous aspiring supervisors from every walk in life fail..Talking down, to another human being, regardless of said human beings socio economic background, is a plan to fail 100 percent of the time.

    • 0 avatar

      “They work harder at screwing off than work.
      I know. I was a skilled trades supervisor at GM in Powertrain and Assy. facilities.”

      assuming you’re telling the truth, maybe you were just a lousy supervisor. all of the skilled tradespeople I’ve worked with at my current job take quite a bit of pride in their jobs.

  • avatar

    Wall Street does not care about future products or the UAW, all they want to know is how Ford is going to rid itself of all that debt….

    • 0 avatar

      They’d have to give up a significant portion of their business (Ford Credit) to get rid of all that debt.


      On page A7 of the deck, you’ll find the leases that ford owns (like your bank owns your mortgage) and that amounts to more than the related debt. So, only if they wanted to sell their bank (Ford Credit) could they extinguish their related debt.

      Page A8 has the debt

      • 0 avatar

        it’s “revolving” debt, money borrowed to lend out to dealers and new car buyers/lessees.

        it’s not corporate debt taken out to finance operations.

        • 0 avatar

          Since the consumer leases are short term, the borrowings should be short term as well. This is managing interest rate risk. You don’t want to borrow long before rates decline, and you don’t want to lend long if rates are going to rise. One borrows in approximately the same time frames one invests in (supposing you can get your lenders to agree). Ford management should not be guessing at future interest rate movements.

          I’m not sure what you saw in the Motley Fool article that made you think otherwise, but the borrowings ARE Corporate Debt taken out to finance Leasing Operations.

          Ford has two big operations: making cars and lending money.

          You know what would be real interesting at TTAC? An analysis of Ford (or any other lender) having to sell their cars that come back off lease, and the risk that entails in a declining car market (supposing new and used car sales combined are declining).

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Maybe they should split the company and saddle “old Ford” with debt and product liability.

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