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Wayne, Michigan Remarks to Employees of the Ford Automobile Assembly Plant.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Ford Motor Company

Wayne, Michigan Remarks to Employees of the Ford Automobile Assembly Plant.

President Jimmy Carter
October 1, 1980

Thank you very much, Phil and Doug, John, for the good tour through this wonderful plant.

Congressman Brodhead, Congressman Ford, and my fellow automobile workers:

I'm very glad to be with you. As a matter of fact, I'm a member of local 900, not the Atlanta local—dues paid up for a lifetime. [Laughter] And also I've got my coat to prove that I'm one of the chief inspectors of this wonderful plant.

As you know, there is a new spirit here, because this area is an area of winners, all the way from this new Ford plant at Wayne to the Detroit Lions. And when this new model year is over, I know you'll be able to point to the foreign competition, no matter where it might come from, and say, "Another one bites the dust." And after the football season's over, I'm going to get Billy Simms to help me with the automobile industry everywhere and to keep the world at peace and to do other important things that I know he can help handle.

Well, this is an exciting day for me. It's exciting because my heart is filled with gratitude for what I've seen. I wish that every single citizen of the United States of America could have gone with me through this plant. I've just seen some of the best designed, best built, most up-to-date automobiles in the world rolling off this assembly line at full capacity. This is American ingenuity and it's American teamwork at its best, and I'm very proud of every one of you and grateful for what you're doing here.

The new model introductions each fall have always been exciting. I remember, as a boy in Georgia living on a farm, studying the magazine ads as the new models for each year were revealed, and then as soon as I could get a chance to go to the county seat over in Americus, Georgia, I would go there and look with wide-open eyes at the new American cars in the local automobile dealerships.

This visit here, though, is doubly exciting, not just because of the new models I've seen but because this will be the year that we begin to turn around the American economy, and especially in our automobile industry. We have been hit by severe shocks. The origin of them is the multiplication of the price of OPEC oil.

American consumers attitudes have changed, and you have responded to meet that challenge. And I can tell you, with the greatest sense of being absolutely right, that there's a new spirit of cooperation and partnership and friendship and consultation and shared responsibility between the Government, the management of our automobile manufacturers, the automobile workers, to face the future with success. There is no other automobile industry on Earth that could have accomplished more quickly or more completely this fundamental shift that's taking place in our country in automobile production.

Since 1974 alone, the fuel economy performance of American-built cars has improved by nearly 50 percent—and the rate of improvement now is much greater than it has been even in the earlier years-while the mileage of foreign competitors since 1974 has stayed the same. In just 1 year, fuel efficiency in this country has increased by 20 percent in some models. No other competing country even comes close.

No other country builds safer cars that offer more protection in a collision. No other country makes cars that are more durable. I know that you put your best in building them and the workers are more directly involved now than before in quality control, because your stamp of workmanship and pride is on every automobile that rolls off this assembly line. I know that you're proud of them, and I believe that all Americans are proud of the dramatic progress that you've made.

Today, as President, I urge American consumers to go into the showrooms around this country and test drive these new American cars. There's not a better built, safer, more durable, or more efficient car today than these new American models, and the American buyers ought to remember that because it's important to us all.

And I urge other countries who want to sell their cars in the United States to do as some foreign manufacturers have already done—locate more of their plants in this country and employ American workers. Perhaps when Americans go new-car shopping, they'll ask their dealers, was this car built in the United States. That's a good question. American automobile workers deserve the chance to compete, and as President, I urge American buyers to give you that chance.

In the next few months we'll be buying thousands of new cars and trucks with American taxpayers' money, and I'm going to make certain that they'll be American-made automobiles and trucks, because they are first rate and they're world class, but they're only the beginning. In the next 5 years—this is almost hard to believe—our automobile industry will invest almost $80 billion to produce even more fuel-efficient, high-quality advanced cars that the American public will be eager to buy. This is twice the cost of the Apollo program that went to the Moon, in just half the time.

And I pledge to you that as President I'll use the full resources of my own office to ensure that the American automobile industry has access to the capital it needs to retool, to compete, and to maintain its rightful share of the American automobile market. That's been my commitment in the past, it's my commitment now, and it will be my commitment in the future. And Phil Caldwell has. pointed out to you, which I need not repeat, some of the steps that we've already taken.

My administration—President, Vice President, Secretary of Transportation, and everyone else—will stay right in the trenches with the UAW and the American automobile industry until we restore this industry to its full productive health. I will not rest until the working men and women in the auto industry are back on the job with full-time, steady work.

As President I've made it absolutely clear to our foreign competitors that the United States will not abandon any portion of our share of the domestic automobile market. We've asked the ITC to give us an early ruling on the claims that have been made by the UAW about unfair foreign competition. And as you know, I have also authorized the imposition of a 25-percent duty on trucks that were previously assembled by subterfuge in this country. I expect our foreign competition to practice restraint during this time of transition, as I've counseled them to do.

I also want you to know that you're part of something larger than the automobile industry. Something special is happening in this country—the rebuilding of our entire economic base. To do the job right, we need to include labor, business and Government in a solid partnership, something that we've already begun in the automobile industry. Yesterday I announced a similar move which will revitalize the steel industry in our country.

The economic revitalization program that labor helped to develop will create an additional 1 million new jobs in the next 2 years, jobs in growing and competitive industries. We'll modernize our basic industries, such as steel and automobiles. We'll encourage high-technology industries. We'll expand research and development to keep us in the forefront, on the cutting edge of progress. We'll rebuild our transportation system, so important to you. And we'll expand exports. We'll aid communities and workers that are hit hard by inevitable change. And when we are finished, the American economy will be a full-employment economy, and the American worker will continue to outwork, outproduce, and outcompete the workers of any other country on Earth. And you can depend on that, if we work together.

The reason I'm so confident is because the auto industry is again taking the lead. I remember that during the depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt asked autoworkers and makers to move up the new model year introductions to help our staggering economy. The industry responded and helped to stimulate the economy at its lowest point. During World War II, the President again turned to the auto industry, and you helped to make America the arsenal of democracy. I see that same spirit exactly here today, and I'll leave here much more encouraged than I have been before.

Let me make just one final point. Just 5 weeks from now, as Doug pointed out, the American people will make an important decision. I'm not going to mention politics, but I'll just say that I intend to be your President when a constant stream of ships full of American-built cars are unloading in Tokyo and Yokohama, and I want your help to make that come true.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12 noon outside the plant. In his opening remarks, he referred to Philip Caldwell, chairman of the board of directors, Ford Motor Co., and Douglas Fraser, president of the Automobile Workers of America.

Prior to his remarks, the President met separately with Ford Motor Co. executives and UAW officials and then was given a tour of the plant.

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