Dec 11, 2006
Only days after Ford announced that nearly half of its workforce had “volunteered” to take the buyout, the Detroit News ran an article entitled, “How 38,000 were enticed to leave Ford.”
The article chronicled the “untold story” of how Ford put one over on its U.S. workforce, convincing them to head for the exits, using a combination of marketing ploys, scare tactics and fake promises of great career opportunities – all with the blessing and participation of the UAW International.
So where was the media the whole year this huge scam operation was being carried out? The answer is – they were part of it! The newspapers, TV, radio, politicians, top UAW International officials, many local union officials, banks, universities, community colleges, psychologists, sociologists, telemarketers – you name it, they were all accomplices. They repeated the lies and the scare tactics to do the bidding of a multi-billion-dollar, world-wide corporation to scam tens of thousands of workers out of a job – only to replace them with tens of thousands more who will be paid half as much.
So what are the details of this operation? In March 2006, Ford executives and UAW leaders met in Las Vegas to start the ball rolling. They agreed that Ford workers should compete with OTHER FORD WORKERS in U.S. plants, coming up with 30 “Competitive Operating Agreements.” These COA’s will let Ford close some plants and run others flat out. The aim isn’t to cut production, but only pack more people into fewer plants to run production 24-7.
But the biggest scam of all was the so-called “Special Incentive” programs to try to convince the existing workforce to leave – so that Ford, like Delphi and GM, could replace them with a permanently “temporary” lower-paid workforce.
Then a scare campaign was put into play, full-force, with none other than Bob King – a UAW VP, newly appointed in June at the UAW Las Vegas convention – to play the duet with Ford’s counterpart, Mark Fields. Some workers got the company line, slickly-packaged with power-point presentations and fire-and brimstone speeches, from Bob King in person. Others were given a DVD – with the same, slick financial analysis portraying a gloomy financial outlook for the company. Asserting that Ford was in “financial trouble – so serious, I believe that it has put the hard-earned job security of many of our members at risk,” King claimed that “a voluntary work force reduction seems to be our best option.”
To ensure they were covering all bases, Ford enlisted the help of research marketers from the University of Michigan – at the Dearborn campus, Dearborn being the Ford company town of the Ford dynasty. These marketing “experts” surveyed 2,000 workers who had taken earlier buyouts from the Edison, N.J., and St. Louis plants, to see how to sell the new buy-outs. Marketing tactics were designed to fine tune just how Ford would package the buyout, ESPECIALLY to convince younger workers, not even close to retirement age, to leave.
The scam continued. Ford assembled a team from Human Resources, Labor Relations, and Public Relations, coming up with banners, a web site, call centers, financial analysts and slick video profiles of the “success” stories of seven former Ford workers who had taken earlier buyouts. They organized career fairs at each plant and set up booths, including recruiting workers for the most disgusting work of all – as Border Patrol or CIA! They held in-plant meetings, stopping production, so workers would hear yet more horror stories from the top bosses, with local union leaders sitting quietly, their heads down, on the right hand side of the bosses.
The company now is bragging they got their big buyout numbers. They also got the green light from UAW leaders to hire replacement workers, paid much less, with no benefits, no union rights – except having to pay dues – and no permanent job status.
Ford, the UAW leadership, and a whole host of con artists ran a game on the Ford workers. And they were so arrogant, they thought they could brag about it publicly right after people signed up.
But the story isn’t over. Scammers sometimes end up getting scammed themselves. There’s nothing that says workers can’t throw these so-called “offers” back in Ford’s face. According to the papers everyone signed, workers can withdraw their decision to quit up until the last day before they are to leave.
Scams don’t work with people who are savvy. Workers have proven time and time again that they understand who their real enemies are. “Solidarity Forever” was the battle cry of auto workers in the past. These old, militant traditions can be resurrected and put into practice today by workers who are equally savvy about what their own real interests are.