Ford CEO Alan Mulally told shareholders that the tone of contract negotiations between Ford Motor Co. and the UAW will be different from years ago as it will be focused on boosting competitiveness and retaining the earnings momentum. Later this summer, the Detroit three -- Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC -- will start talks with the UAW as its current contract is set to expire this September.
After Ford's annual shareholder meeting, Mulally faced reporters and told them, "The difference in the environment of where Ford is and where Ford has gone is going to play into this."
He said that he is looking forward to how its competitiveness could be enhanced. Ford, the only major U.S. automaker that didn’t have to be bailed out during the economic crisis, posted its strongest annual profit in 2010 since 1999. Ford’s profit in the first quarter also exceeded Wall Street expectations.
At the shareholder meeting, Chairman Bill Ford said that 2011 earnings are estimated to increase further because of the more potent global economy and due to the demand for Ford’s enhanced lineup, such as its Fiesta and Focus small cars.
Bill Ford said, "If you're not moving ahead you're falling behind." For 2011, Ford considers the labor talks as one of its challenges. Union officials said that their top priorities include creating jobs and profit-sharing. In the past few weeks, UAW President Bob King has criticized Mulally's $26.5 million pay package for 2010 for being "morally wrong."