Ford CEO Shares Vision With UAW Before Wall Street Gets a Look at the Goods

Prior to outlining Ford Motor Company’s new strategy to financial analysts and corporate investors, CEO Jim Hackett wants to check-in with leadership from the United Automobile Workers. Hackett has been undertaking a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points — established during Mark Fields’ executive tenure — with a mind to reevaluate the status quo.

However, before he announces his new vision for the company to Wall Street, Hackett is giving the UAW a peek. Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot. 

“Normally, it’s the other way around, if it happens at all,” Settles explained to Bloomberg on Wednesday. “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.”

Despite Ford having made plans to lay off roughly 10 percent of its workforce last month, Settles and UAW President Dennis Williams seemed pleased that Hackett had indicated no loss in union employment.

“He said, ‘Look here, my review is not to see how many heads I can cut.’ He made that perfectly clear,” Settles said of a recent meeting with 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.”

Hackett is expected to elaborate on Ford’s intention to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles and boost the company’s sagging stock in a meeting with analysts and investors in New York next month. Settles says Hackett should be sharing some of those details with the UAW first — perhaps not everything but enough to give them a sense of what is to come.

“I hope he outlines the vision, the long-term vision,” Settles said. “Our members want to hear that. People want to feel secure.”

Ford’s share price fell 37 percent during Fields’s three years at the helm. It was the primary reason Hackett was tapped to replace him. As the former CEO of office furniture maker Steelcase Inc., he’s still getting accustomed to the automotive landscape but Settles indicated he wasn’t worried about his background.

“Hackett is obviously not a car man, but he knows manufacturing and seems to be very, very innovative,” he explained. “It seems when Bill Ford personally goes out and picks people, they seem to be the right people.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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