Unifor President Jerry Dias said he is not concerned about potential job cuts under new Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett, who oversaw about 12,000 layoffs during his tenure as the head of office furniture company Steelcase Inc.
Dias said he does not expect Hackett to replicate his approach at Steelcase, which moved much of its production from the U.S. to Mexico under his watch. That's because the political climate in Canada and the U.S., fresh off a populist wave in the 2016 presidential election, has changed drastically in the past few years, he said.
"Citizens of the United States and Canada are now much more cognizant of the fact that we got screwed under NAFTA," Dias said in an interview with Automotive News.
The union's new contract with Ford, which it negotiated last year and secures $530 million (C$713 million) in investments in its Canadian operations, would also serve to protect against potential job cuts in the wake of slumping Ford shares and a weakening U.S. marketplace, he said. Unifor represents about 6,400 Ford workers in Canada.
"I'm very confident that Ford is going to honor its commitment to its workers in Canada," Dias said. "Ford is a stand-up company. I'm not concerned."
Hackett was hired Monday as CEO of Ford as part of a sweeping leadership shakeup. Hackett, 62, replaces Mark Fields, who is retiring after less than three years at the helm amid shareholder pressure and a weak performance on the stock market.
Hackett made a name for himself as CEO of Michigan-based Steelcase, where he oversaw thousands of job cuts and plant shutdowns as part of a substantial reorganization of the company.
After retiring from Steelcase, he became interim athletic director at the University of Michigan, where he was credited with turning around the fortunes of its football program with the hiring of head coach Jim Harbaugh. Hackett then spent the past 14 months as the head of Ford's mobility subsidiary.