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Auto union vows to look closely at Ford-Volkswagen alliance
[DETROIT] The United Auto Workers said on Monday it will take a close look at the Ford's alliance with the Volkswagen as the union opens contract negotiations with major American automakers this week.
And even as Ford and other companies face a more difficult landscape in transitioning to electric and autonomous vehicles, UAW President Gary Jones said the union also will press for workers to get a greater share of the companies' solid profits.
During the traditional handshake that marked the opening of talks with Ford, Mr Jones was wary of the expanded alliance that the US and German automakers announced last week.
"As all are aware, Volkswagen was not friendly to the UAW in Chattanooga and we will look very hard and with great concern at any alliance with them or any other non-labor friendly company," Mr Jones said.
"I'm sure more will come on this front."
The UAW is smarting from its narrow loss at a VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee where it was attempting to organise some 1,700 workers, where a shift of 29 votes could have changed the outcome.
Mr Jones also emphasised that the union was expecting to make economic gains in the upcoming bargaining with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
"I have heard loud and clear - at every Ford plant and local visit - that they expect to share in the profits that their hard work and dedication have made possible," he said.
"We're seeing record profits for our American companies but, sad to say, those gains aren't translating to our workers' gains."
Mr Jones noted that the "Big 3" automakers are out-earning the competition.
"You have the home field advantage that our members built," and yet workers are being forced to take concessions while jobs have been offshored to Mexico and China where they earn lower wages.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford executive vice president and head of the company's automotive operations, said the UAW could have a role in Argo AI, the autonomous driving unit.
VW is investing US$2.6 billion in Argo to market new technology vehicles in the US and European markets, while Ford will use VW technology to sell a fully electric vehicle to European customers.