The president of the United Auto Workers union is coming out strong against Ford's plan to shift production of electric vehicles from Michigan to Mexico and said the tax-reform package speeding through Congress "gives corporations an incentive to outsource" and undercuts President Trump's pledge to renegotiate NAFTA to benefit American workers.
Dennis Williams made his comments in an interview Tuesday with the Detroit Free Press. He said the tax plan nearing final passage will benefit wealthy people, who will seek quick returns rather than make long-term investments in manufacturing. Others have argued that the Republican tax plan will increase the outsourcing of U.S. jobs by strengthening overseas tax havens and allowing corporations to send home earnings from other countries tax free.
"When do they start to think about our country?" said Williams, who retires in June. "We've had 17 plants close. You visit empty plants, you see empty fields. You see devastation of neighborhoods and schools with no tax base. It disrupts police and fire and destroys family units."
Williams also targeted Ford, which recently decided to swap production of an all-electric crossover to Mexico from its Flat Rock, Mich. plant while converting the latter to production of autonomous vehicles. The move coincides with an extra $200 million and 150 more jobs in Flat Rock, on top of a $700 million investment and 700 jobs Ford announced in January. But Williams said he doesn't understand why Ford can't build both EVs and AVs at the plant and bring badly needed good-paying jobs and technology to the U.S. "I'm angry at Ford," he said.
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker told the Free Press the company's decision to build self-driving cars is a good investment and part of a strategy that benefits workers. "That's really the bottom line," she said. A Ford spokeswoman separately contacted Autoblog to note that Jimmy Settles, the UAW-Ford vice president, had earlier said the Mexico-Flat Rock move "does not affect our jobs or economic investment commitments."
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