The mid-September meeting in Detroit with United Auto Workers leaders from across the US sends an important signal that the new boss is putting workers first, said Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department.
“Normally, it’s the other way around, if it happens at all,” Mr Settles said of the CEO meeting with union leaders before Wall St. “Then people know that I care about you. You’re hearing it from me. You don’t have to hear about it from the media,” he said.
Mr Settles said Mr Hackett has already assured him and UAW president Dennis Williams that there are no plans to seek layoffs of union workers, even as Ford plans to cut 10% of its salaried staff in North America and Asia this month. Mr Hackett, who became CEO in May after Ford’s board ousted predecessor Mark Fields, has been engaged in a review of the company’s strategy in his first 100 days in the job.
“He said, ‘Look here, my review is not to see how many heads I can cut.’ He made that perfectly clear,” Mr Settles said of a recent conversation he and Mr Williams had with Mr Hackett. “He’s looking for innovation. We talked about upscaling. The jobs of today may not be the jobs of tomorrow, but let’s talk about that in advance.” Ford confirmed Mr Hackett would be meeting with the union but declined to comment on what he planned to discuss.
“Ford and the UAW leadership hold regular meetings throughout the year,” said company spokeswoman Kelli Felker. “Ford’s senior leadership team routinely participates in these meetings to talk with the union about the business.”
Mr Hackett is expected to lay out plans to accelerate development of autonomous cars and boost Ford’s sagging stock in an early October meeting with analysts and investors in New York. Mr Settles foresees Mr Hackett sharing some of that plan first with UAW leaders, he said in an interview at UAW headquarters , adding that he was the one who requested the meeting between Mr Hackett and union officials. “I hope he outlines the vision, the long-term vision,” Mr Settles said. “Our members want to hear that. People want to feel secure.”