Leaders of Ford Motor Co. and the UAW say their new four-year labor pact positions Ford to compete better against import automakers even with U.S. sales poised to shrink in 2008.
We reached a contract that had some very challenging issues, Executive Chairman Bill Ford said Monday. The teamwork was amazing, and we came up with a contract which is in my mind excellent for the employees, excellent for the retirees and great for the company.
Said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger: The fact that the market is off a little bit doesnt really mean a whole lot. What is important is we have a plan in place at Ford that were going to move this company forward.
The leaders made the remarks as they officially sealed their new four-year labor contract Monday afternoon. The signing ceremony came nearly three weeks after UAW membership ratified the agreement.
With the strides made in closing the cost gap with Japanese automakers, the contract is a tremendous plus as Ford faces a worsening economy in 2008, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said. No further job cuts are planned right now, though Ford is prepared to adjust its business plan as necessary, he said.
But the new contract with the UAW does allow for another round of voluntary buyouts for hourly workers. Ford officials expect to issue details about new buyout offers before the end of the year.
Going into this years negotiations, Bill Ford recalled how people would tell him Good luck against the UAW.
And nothing would make my blood boil more than to think I would be against Ford employees, Bill Ford said. Everybody in this room, everybody who works at Ford are all part of the Ford family.
In other Ford news today:
- Mulally said Ford is on track to announce a deal to sell Jaguar and Land Rover by late this year or early next year.
- Bill Ford said that Ford Motor is ready to meet the demands of a new CAFÉ deal.
It is a stretch, and we worked very hard with the members of Congress to come up with a deal we could live with, he said. All our effort now is going to be placed toward not just meeting the congressional mandate but also meeting customer demand.
Satisfying customers must remain the focus, he said, because if you start backwards, I think youll end up with a solution that doesnt work for the customer.
- Ford Motor Co. is cutting first-quarter production by 7.4 percent. The automaker plans to produce 685,000 vehicles in North America during the first three months of 2008, down 55,000 units from the first quarter of 2007. The cut shows Fords reluctance to build vehicle inventories as concern grows about U.S. demand in 2008.