Ford Motor Company announced another almost-500 layoffs this week to total nearly 1,800 since a UAW strike began last month.
“While we are doing what we can to avoid layoffs, we have no choice but to reduce production of parts that would be destined for a plant that is on strike,” Vice President of Manufacturing and Labor Affairs for Ford Blue Bryce Currie said in a statement. “Strike-related layoffs are an unfortunate result of the UAW’s strategy.”
Most of the layoffs were at two plants in Ohio.
Ford has offered seven different packages to the striking workers, and the latest one had salaries in the top 25% of all U.S. jobs, hourly or salaried. Benefit increases were also offered.
“There’s no doubt our UAW workforce put us on their shoulders during the pandemic, and these same workers and their families were hit hard by inflation. We want to make sure our workers come out of these negotiations with two things – a record contract and a strong future,” Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “We’ve put an offer on the table that will be costly for the company, especially given our large American footprint and UAW workforce, but one that we believe still allows Ford to invest in the future.”
The strike includes all three Detroit automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis.
The UAW has 400,000 members, but only some of them are on strike. Among their demands is a 32-hour workweek (but paid at 40 hours), which is unheard-of in the U.S.
Other demands include a 36% raise, the end of tiered pay in which newer workers get paid less, and the reinstatement of raises tied to the cost of living, which had ended in 2009.
They also want health care costs for retirees paid and the return of defined-benefit pensions rather than company contributions to 401K plans.
These demands will come at a high cost for automakers, who will probably pass those costs on to consumers.
There have already been steep increases in car prices due to pandemic shutdowns that made them harder to get.
Ford has agreed to a 20% wage increase, restoring cost of living raises, ending tiered pay, increasing pay for temporary workers to $21 per hour plus profit-sharing (now $16-19 per hour with no profit sharing), and contributing $1 for every hour worked toward retiree health benefits.
Their offers have been rejected.
When the strike ends, striking workers will get back pay, but the laid-off workers will not get paid for the time their union forced them out of a job, even if temporarily.