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Ford Faces Crippling Strike Over Canada Truck Output

Ford Faces Crippling Strike Over Canada Truck Output

Unless Ford agrees to keep its F-Series truck assembly in Ontario, the
Canadian Auto Workers served notice Wednesday it could deal the struggling
number-two automaker a crippling blow. The CAW's militant president, Basil (Buzz)
Hargrove, warned Ford negotiators it could call a strike at two Windsor (Ont.)
plants that supply the company's assembly plants with 1,130,000 engines a
year, including the Triton V-8 that powers most of its F-Series pickups, Ford
Expeditions and Excursions and Lincoln Navigators, in reaction to the decision
to close the Oakville, Ont., F-150 plant next year.
On the same day that Ford coupled an announcement of its first quarterly
profit in 15 months with news of further job and wage reductions, the CAW and
Ford held the opening session of contract re-negotiation talks in Toronto.
Sparks flew over the Oakville plant closing. Hargrove called the plant
mothballing "the most troubling issue the CAW faces today" - to which Ford of Canada's
human resources vice-president Tim Hartmann replied that the decision to
shut a plant building the high-selling F-150 "is about eliminating excess
capacity, not about quality, cost or productivity."
Hargrove said the CAW is angry over the fact that the F-150 work being done
at Oakville, where 1,500 are involved, is being moved to a plant in
Dearborn, Mich. He said the union would change its position about using the Oakville
phase out as a strike lever if the work were relocated to another Canadian
plant - an unlikely prospect because the Dearborn facilities have been updated
to "flex" manufacturing.
Amid a scenario where Ford's $571 million net profit report for the second
quarter was offset by poor marks from new CFO Allan D. Gilmour on Ford's
turnaround progress, Ford employees heard for the first time that the second
shift at the Wixom, Mich., Lincoln plant would be cancelled this fall and senior
executive ranks would be pared 12 percent by the end of 2003.
The profit report was Ford's first in 15 months and Ford added a sweetener
by confirming that 47,500 white-collar employees would get merit raises
averaging 3 percent August 1. The increases have been on hold since April and will
not be paid to Ford's 2,200 executives worldwide.
The CAW and GM opened the round of contract renewal talks Tuesday on a more
tranquil note, despite the fact that the number-one automaker will shutter
its assembly plant in Ste. Therese, Quebec, next month. GM, likely to be the
target for the CAW's contract demands, offset the Quebec move by committing
its Oshawa, Ont., plant to a new Pontiac mid-size car and raising production of
the Chevrolet Impala built there. The CAW began talks Thursday with
DaimlerChrysler, which reported improved profits for the Chrysler Group despite a
second-quarter sales decline. All American-brand contracts expire in Canada
after a three-year run on September 17, a year ahead of the UAW's agreements with
the companies for the U.S. - Mac Gordon

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