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Ford exec: Union helped save us during our "darkest hour"

By Justin King

Thursday, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 10:39 am

Ford executive chairman Bill Ford has credited United Auto Workers with helping to save the company from bankruptcy during the industry crisis of 2008 to 2010.

In an interview with CNBC, the great grandson of company founder Henry Ford suggests former UAW president Ron Gettelfinger deserves more credit for coming to the table and helping "save" the company as its competitors were forced to pursue bankruptcy protection.

The "Squawk Box" host seemed surprised by the assertion, considering the UAW has been blamed for putting companies into bankruptcy, but Ford insists it was a "two-way street."

"Over a many-year period, they were asking for more, but we're the ones who gave it," Ford noted. "But then when we got into a really tough period, I sat down with Ron and I said, 'Ron you have to help me save the Ford Motor Company' so we didn't have to go through bankruptcy, so we didn't have to get a federal bailout. And he did that."

At the time, the UAW took some of the benefits obligations onto its own books in the form of a voluntary employees' beneficiary association (VEBA) trust. The union also established profit-sharing agreements in lieu of guaranteed raises, which resulted in an average $8,800 payout for 2013.

Bill Ford also commented on the UAW's unionization attempt at Volkswagen's Tennessee plant, noting that he wasn't surprised at the results "because there's a long history of organizing that didn't go well in the South."

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