DETROIT -- The UAW is talking with Ford Motor Co. about ways to avoid layoffs as the automaker builds more electric vehicles, a senior union official told Reuters on Thursday.
Ford told investors Tuesday it planned to slash $14 billion in costs over the next five years and shift investments away from internal combustion engines and sedans to develop more trucks, plus electric and hybrid cars.
"We've been doing our due diligence to find out how much it (electrification) means to us," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, head of the union's Ford department. "We put them on notice early on that we want to be part of this process."
"Up to this point they (Ford) have been agreeable that it's in the best interest of the company and also our members for us to be part of the process," he added.
General Motors Co. unveiled plans this week to add 20 new battery electric and fuel cell vehicles to its global lineup by 2023.
Ford's presentation to investors this week under new CEO Jim Hackett, included a slide touting a 30 percent reduction in "hours per unit" to build EVs.
Fewer hours mean fewer workers.
German automaker Daimler AG warned last month that electric Mercedes models would initially be just half as profitable as conventional alternatives -- forcing the group to find savings by outsourcing more component manufacturing, which may in turn threaten German jobs.
The UAW's Settles said he had met one-on-one with Hackett, a former CEO of office furniture maker Steelcase Inc. and in a meeting with union leaders in recent weeks.
He said Hackett's message had been that he wants to find new opportunities for UAW workers as electrification evolves.
"The assembly may be different, but he's not looking to eliminate any jobs," Settles said of Hackett. "He's been consistent in what he's saying and I'm optimistic he means it."
The UAW vice president said the union and automaker had assembled teams to discuss future jobs, including for production workers and skilled trades workers, Settles said.
Settles said Ford's announcement in March that it would invest $200 million on a new data center in Michigan could create new union-represented, technology-related jobs.
"We need further communications on what it means in terms of jobs," he said.
Ford has completed 85 percent of a pledge -- negotiated during national labor talks in 2015 -- to create or retain 8,500 union jobs by 2019 and could hit 100 percent by the end of 2017, Settles said.
A Ford spokeswoman said the company and the UAW are in "constant communications about the business."