Ford CEO Jim Farley Highlights UAW Absenteeism Amid COVID Challenges


Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley pointed out that the hourly absenteeism of UAW workers this week is playing a notable role in the automaker’s current production problems, a claim disputed by the union.

Farley, in an interview with CNN Business on Wednesday, also cited the chip shortage and overall supply chain challenges that continued to worsen during the pandemic. He said absenteeism rates for factory workers exceed 20% in some factories.

“Face masks are mandatory again at major US auto plants and, according to Ford CEO Jim Farley, some workers decide not to show up for work. In some factories, absenteeism rates can exceed 20%, he said in an interview with CNN. Business, “the network reported on Wednesday.

“When a fifth of your workforce doesn’t go into a manufacturing operation where everyone has their jobs and you don’t know who’s going to be missing each day, man, it’s really hard,” said Farley, according to CNN.

Brian Rothenberg, spokesperson for the union that represents some 56,000 hourly Ford workers, on Friday rebuffed the idea that factory worker absenteeism is somehow to blame for Ford’s manufacturing challenges.

General Motors, Ford and Stellantis – the three auto makers in Detroit that are working with its UAW union leaders on pandemic safety protocols – all need face masks at factories.

“This tenure has contributed to the absentee problem,” CNN said, quoting Farley this week.

The UAW reiterated its commitment to the work.

“While we are not sure what context the company has approached the footfall issue in, we question the accuracy of the data being shared,” Rothenberg told The Free Press in response to questions about workers at Ford UAW.

“It is a common practice over the years for UAW members to use the majority of their vacations during the summer months and in return our locals make arrangements to allow the use of employees. temporary to ensure that production is not affected, ”Rothenberg said. . “UAW Ford members take participation seriously and work hard, including throughout the challenges of the current pandemic.”

Kelli Felker, global head of manufacturing and labor communications at Ford, explained Friday: “Jim was responding to a question about the challenges of the pandemic. He pointed out that absenteeism is higher for various reasons, which puts stress on our manufacturing system. We are fortunate to be able to work with the UAW to find solutions to keep our factories running during this time and we deeply appreciate all the men and women who work hard every day to build quality vehicles for our customers.

When asked explicitly to confirm the accuracy of the 20% absenteeism rate, as Farley said, Felker replied, “We are not releasing this information.”

Ironically, Rothenberg said, UAW workers have stepped up in these uncertain times – not backwards.

“In fact, at a very dangerous time in the pandemic, UAW members rallied to manufacture essential PPE equipment as all factories were shut down due to health and safety. We are proud that members UAW Ford continues to escalate at such a critical time. “

Auto manufacturers usually bring in a team of temporary workers when regular workers are gone. Ford is the largest employer of hourly auto workers in the United States, with a total of around 56,000 at the start of 2020.

Vacation and leave policies are governed by collective bargaining.

Workers outside the auto industry said they were drawn to the UAW in part because of its commitment to safety protocols.

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This story has been edited for clarity after posting.

Contact Phoebe Wall her on Twitter@phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and subscribe to our automotive newsletter.

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