United Auto Workers President Praises New Ford CEO

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger Thursday praised the appointment of former Boeing Co executive Alan Mulally to head Ford Motor Co. (F), calling it a "smart move."

"I think it's a very smart move on the part of Mr. Ford," Gettelfinger told members of the Detroit Economic Club. "I think bringing Alan Mulally into the fold was an excellent move on his part."

The comments were the first by the UAW chief on the new Ford chief executive, who was named to replace Bill Ford Jr. in a move that comes as the automaker's struggles to reverse mounting losses and dwindling market share in the U.S. market.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, is preparing a stepped-up cost-cutting plan, scheduled to go before the company's board on Sept. 14.

The plan, the company's third restructuring in five years, is expected to include more blue-collar job cuts and an expanded buyout offer for unionized factory workers.

Ford said in January that it would cut 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants in North America by 2012. The company said in July that the weakening demand for its market-leading pickup trucks made it necessary for it to push that restructuring faster.

Gettelfinger said he was not aware of what Ford will announce this month.

Gettelfinger, who worked with Mulally when the UAW chief was in the aerospace department of the UAW, called Mulally a "credible individual."

Ford, like both General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group, the U.S.-based unit of DaimlerChrysler AG , is preparing for a major new round of contract talks with the UAW scheduled to start in September 2007.