Ford will speak to workers on state of the company

Ford will speak to workers on state of the company

David Barkholz
Automotive News | September 23, 2009 – 4:29 pm EST


DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. will shut production for 30 minutes Thursday at its Dearborn Truck plant so manufacturing chief Joe Hinrichs can address employees about the state of the company.

UAW dissident Gary Walkowicz, a bargaining committeeman for UAW Local 600 at the plant, said he expected the presentation at 7:30 a.m. ET to be a thinly veiled justification of why Ford needs additional labor concessions from hourly workers. The Dearborn Truck plant employs 3,080 hourly workers.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans declined to comment about the content of the address. She said the company holds employee meetings periodically at Dearborn Truck and other Ford plants.

Ford is talking with the UAW and its counterpart union in Canada, the Canadian Auto Workers, to gain concessions comparable to those negotiated by Chrysler and GM as part of their bankruptcies. Ford said it would like contract changes so it is not competitively disadvantaged by the new deals gained by Chrysler and GM.

With the UAW, those include money-saving factory rule changes, a no-strike clause in the 2011 contract negotiations and retiree health care payments for a new UAW-administered trust that will be made mostly in equity rather than cash.

But UAW leaders are balking at new concessions in light of Ford’s market share gains and improved earnings in recent months.

“We want to see equality of sacrifice by the company,” said Anderson Robinson Jr., president of UAW Local 900, representing hourly workers at Ford’s Wayne Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit. The plant makes the Ford Focus small sedan.

Walkowicz said he expects Hinrichs to obliquely pitch for concessions by downplaying last quarter’s net profit and comparing Ford’s debt burden with that of the bankruptcy-scrubbed balance sheets of GM and Chrysler.

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