Ford is readying plans for its white-collar salaried employees to step in and keep parts flowing in the instance that its blue-collar union workers walk off the job next month amid threats that the United Auto Workers are preparing to strike at Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
The Detroit Free Press first reported that Ford is holding meetings with salaried workers like engineers to coordinate and prepare them for filling in at warehouses and operating forklifts to assure dealerships and customers that they are still able to obtain vehicle parts if operations shut down.
The outlet obtained a recording of a Ford manager explaining the plans to salaried employees, along with internal company documents providing details.
“We are working hard to reach a new deal. But, like we do for any scenario where customer service could be interrupted, we need to plan for the possibility of a UAW strike,” the manager says in the audio. “Our customers and dealers are counting on us to ship parts so we can keep Ford vehicles on the road.”
The unnamed manager explained, “The continued operation of our Ford customer service depots will make the difference between first responders being able to respond to emergencies or not, utility trucks being able to respond to power outages or not, customers making it to work or not, and customers accessing health care or not. This is our core purpose for the company, giving people the freedom to move. That’s why we are preparing to supply dealer part orders in the event of a strike.”
Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch confirmed the preparations to FOX Business and said in a statement, “We have a responsibility to our customers and dealers to ship the parts that keep Ford vehicles on the road – especially to keep first responders and other essential services running.”
Enoch added, “Like we would for any scenario where customer service could be interrupted, Ford is planning for the possibility of a work stoppage. Safety and customer service are top priorities for us.”
The UAW has repeatedly threatened that its 150,000 members at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler owner Stellantis are prepared to strike if new deals are not reached in ongoing contract negotiations by the Sept. 14 deadline. The labor union said votes on strike authorization will take place next week.
Ford employs more hourly UAW members than any other automaker, and it said in a statement last week that the company looks “forward to working with the UAW on creative solutions” during the negotiations. But as the UAW noted last week, the clock is ticking on the talks.