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Boards and Director’s Seats

Reading the tea leaves after Ford's latest appointments.

by on Mar.25, 2009

A friend of the UAW could help remove health care costs from U.S. automakers.

This friend of the UAW could help remove health care costs from U.S. automakers.

Ford Motor Company went to Capitol Hill to fill a seat on its board of directors by naming former Democratic Congressman Richard A. Gephardt to the company’s board of directors. Gephardt, 68, is the former Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and served 14 terms in Congress. He left Congress after the 2004 election and is now president and CEO of the Gephardt Group, a consulting firm that “helps companies compete in the global marketplace” and senior counsel or DLA Piper Rudnick, a Washington law firm.

The former St. Louis Congressman, who was also mentioned as possible choice for vice president last summer before Barrack Obama selected Joe Biden, is also close the United Auto Workers union, having championed the union’s agenda in Washington throughout his long career in Congress and during his abortive bids for the U.S. Presidency.

Consequently, Gephardt’s appointment is likely to be viewed on Wall Street as having been influenced by the UAW, which has agreed to accept Ford shares as part of a new arrangement to finance the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association that is supposed to pay for the health care of retired Ford workers.

Over the years, Gephardt also championed federally-sponsored health care, and gained a reputation as a protectionist in debates over trade agreement during his years in Congress.

Gephardt also is a member of the board of directors of United States Steel Corporation, Spirit Aerosystems Holding, Dana Corporation, Centene Corporation and Embarq Corporation.