A united front of U.S. labor and U.S. manufacturers is the only answer to meeting the challenge from foreign auto manufacturers, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford Motor Co.'s head North American manufacturing, to employees at its Romeo Engine Plant.
Foreign car manufacturers are opening facilities allover the U.S. in order to cull political favor and become more acceptable to U.S. consumers, said Hinrichs in comments broadcast online Wednesday to Ford workers in North America.
According to Hinrich, auto workers and the UAW can curb the growth of Japanese, Korean and German auto manufacturers in the U.S. by making Ford's North American plants more efficient, such as approving flexibe work rules to cut costs, referring to the recent competitive operating agreements reached by the UAW and the Canadian Auto Workers.
A competitive operating agreement was recently agreed to by the Romeo plant, the 35th Ford-run facility to do so. There are still approximately 15 other plants in the U.S. and Canada that have yet to negotiate an agreement, although some have implemented informal cost-saving measures.
According to Hinrichs, unions are not the problem, they are part of the solution.
Hinrichs said that more must be done to help Ford and other U.S. carmakers deal with health and pension costs for their employees, issues which do not plague their foreign competitors.