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—the same compensation hike that all Big Three CEOs have garnered in the past four years.
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.”
“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.'”
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 15 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.
Newsweek reached out to the press offices of Ford, General Motors and Stellantis via email Thursday for comment ahead of the impending strike.