US union rips Ford plan to move electric vehicles to Mexico


Detroit (AFP)

The United Auto Workers chief on Wednesday blasted Ford's decision to send production of electric vehicles to Mexico, out of its home base in Michigan.

UAW President Dennis Williams also complained that the massive tax bill approved by Congress on Wednesday failed to provide funding to key investments to make the US more competitive.

"I'm not happy with Ford," Williams told reporters at the union's headquarters. "I think we're missing a huge opportunity in this country."

Ford announced earlier this month that it planned to shift production of electric vehicles to Mexico, reversing a previous decision to produce the cars at its Flat Rock, Michigan plant.

The company said the decision allows it to make room at Flat Rock to manufacture self-driving cars. It will boost the intended investment there to $900 million, creating 850 jobs, according to press reports.

But it also comes amid uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement and the potential impact on the continent's integrated auto industry as President Donald Trump's administration presses for more US production.

Some analysts have said moving electric vehicle production to Mexico takes advantage of cheaper labor costs.

Williams said he believes the Trump administration's efforts to revise NAFTA will fail unless something is done to raise the wages of Mexican workers.

"They're focused on rules of origin and all that," he said. "But one thing you have to demand (is) a different standard of living for Mexican workers," Williams said of the ongoing talks.

"General Motors, Ford Motor Co, FCA, Nissan and Toyota could set an example by their wages. You don't need any changes in NAFTA for them to do that," he said.

The labor leader also said the tax bill approved by the Republican-led Congress along party lines Wednesday does nothing to encourage investment in the US in areas like education and technology to better compete with companies in Europe and Asia.

"There will be an upswing but the wealthy are going to throw it into Wall Street not Main Street," he said.

"Our society, as a whole, is not going to be prepared for the next generation of technology and the next generation of science. We are not giving our children the opportunity to have the finest education in the world."