Insider Louisville: Marick Masters on pending contract negotiations between Ford Motor Co. and 55,000 UAW members

The wages and benefits of more than 12,000 Louisville workers will be on the line when national contract negotiations between Ford Motor Co. and 55,000 members of the United Auto Workers union begin next month. The current contract ends in September, and a labor expert told Insider that turbulence in the auto industry and the economy as a whole will make the coming tug-of-war the toughest since before the financial crisis. “These negotiations, I think, are going to be tense and challenging on a number of different fronts,” said Marick Masters, professor of management and director of the Douglas A. Fraser Center in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. Masters said that the automakers are entering the negotiations as they’re seeing stagnating sales — but at the same time are facing enormous investments into new technologies. The union, meanwhile, will want raises and commitments for investments in American manufacturing plants to increase job security. While automakers always have to spend money on developing new products, Masters said rapid technological changes in the industry are requiring additional investments in electrification and autonomous vehicles. Ford and other U.S. automakers have to invest in new technologies or fear losing sales to foreign competitors. Ford also still is feeling the drag from investments in China that haven’t paid off, and from staying in the small car market longer than competitors, Masters said.

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