UAW Rips Ford CEO’s $21 Million Compensation as Strike Looms

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The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is hours away from going on strike against the «Big Three» automakers in the United States, but Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley said that the union’s demands are unrealistic for companies to meet.

Union members voted last month to strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis unless a deal can be reached between the manufacturers and negotiators by 11:59 p.m. Thursday. Among the demands of the UAW, which represents around 150,000 auto workers, are 40 percent pay increases for employees over a four-year contract.

But while speaking with CNBC Thursday afternoon, Farley warned that meeting the UAW’s demands could cause a nearly $16 billion loss in company profits, and that Ford would have «gone bankrupt by now.»

United Auto Workers union members and others gather for a rally after marching in the Detroit Labor Day Parade on September 4, 2023, in Michigan. The clock is ticking for negotiators to reach a deal with manufacturers before the union goes on strike against the «Big Three» auto companies in the U.S.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

«The average pay would be nearly $300,000 [per employee] for a four-day workweek,» Farley said.

«Our fully tenured schoolteacher makes $66,000,» he continued. «Some of the military or firemen make mid-$50,000. This is four or five times, six times what they make. There’s no way we can be sustainable as a company. That’s why we put our proposal in two weeks ago to say, ‘look, you want us to choose bankruptcy over supporting our workers.'»

The combined salaries for CEOs of the Big Three increased by 40 percent from 2013 to 2022, reported the Economic Policy Institute. A spokesperson for Ford told Newsweek via email on Thursday night that its CEO compensation increased by 21 percent from 2018 to 2022, the lowest among the top auto manufacturers. Farley was appointed head of the company in 2020.

The UAW quickly snapped back at Farley’s comments over X, formerly Twitter, writing in response to a clip of the CNBC interview, «This man made $21 MILLION DOLLARS last year.»

According to a report from NPR, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the highest-paid executive among the Big Three car manufacturers, made nearly $29 million in 2022—roughly 362 times the average of company employees.

Farley’s compensation was roughly 281 times more than the average in the same year. And Stellantis CEO Carlos Taveras, who made $24.8 million, is earning roughly 365 times above the employee average. The companies’ ratios were reported by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ford made an offer earlier this month that included a 20 percent guaranteed combined wage increase for hourly employees and improved benefits over the life of an employee’s contract. Stellantis offered a similar deal, with wages increasing 14.6 percent over a four-year contract.

General Motors’ offer included a 20 percent wage increase over the contract life span, with 10 percent increases in the first year. The UAW has rejected offers from all three manufacturers, which were described by union President Shawn Fain as «deeply inadequate.»

A strike could have detrimental effects on the U.S. car industry. Other labor unions have also stood in solidarity with UAW, including the Teamsters, which represents thousands of truck and freight haul drivers. According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, Teamsters members who transport vehicles plan to not deliver cars for Ford, General Motors or Stellantis if UAW decides to strike.

Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch told Newsweek via email that the company’s focus during negotiations «has been on reaching a deal that rewards our employees, allows for the continuation of Ford’s unique position as the most American automaker and enables Ford to invest and grow.»

«We have also developed responsible contingency plans in the case of a work stoppage,» Enoch added. «When it comes to our parts depots, we have a responsibility to our customers and dealers to ship the parts that keep Ford vehicles on the road—especially to keep first responders and other essential services running.»

As of Thursday night, a successful negotiation had not been reached between UAW and Stellantis, according to company spokesperson Ann Marie Fortunate.

Newsweek reached out to the General Motors press office via email Thursday for comment ahead of the impending strike.

Correction 09/14/23, 10:13 p.m. ET: This article was updated to reflect that the Ford Motor Company offered a 20 percent general wage increase in its latest offer to UWA.


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