The UAW knows Ford is earning record profits in North America, but does not plan to use that as an opportunity to extract unreasonable raises in contract discussions this year.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said Thursday the union needs to remember that the companies that employ union members must be able to remain healthy for years to come.

“What we do is negotiate smart. We don’t negotiate for today. We negotiate for the future,” Settles said Thursday evening. “We are not negotiating to try to put anybody out of business.”

Last month, Ford said it earned a pretax profit of $2.6 billion in North America between April and July, the most in its history. General Motors’ earned $2.8 billion in North America for the same period while Fiat Chrysler doubled its pretax profits to $1.4 billion in North America.

Those profits came just as the UAW began discussions to renegotiate a four-year contract with GM, Ford and Chrysler to replace a contract that expires Sept. 14.

This year, the union is trying to win raises for entry level workers that make between $15.78 per hour and earn a maximum of $19.28 per hour. The UAW also would like to win a wage increase for workers hired before 2007 who make, on average, $28 per hour.

Nevertheless, the union must be careful not to push companies into agreeing to contracts that make it too expensive to build cars and trucks in the U.S., causing automakers to move production to other countries and causing job losses. In June, Ford said it would stop producing the Ford Focus at its plant in Wayne in 2018 and move production outside of the U.S. in 2018.

Settles said the UAW also must remember that the automotive industry goes in boom-and-bust cycles.

“I am saying that we (will) negotiate smart,” Settles said.

The UAW formally began contract talks with the Detroit Three last month. Since then, Settles said the UAW and Ford have been making progress on an number of issues in committee sessions that often start at 6 a.m. and go all day.

“In our negotiations with Ford we deal with small (issues) …and then we move up,” Settles said. “We are at — I call it the honeymoon stage — we are getting the low-hanging fruit.”

Settles made his comments after appearing at a youth baseball game called the 12U All-Star Classic in Detroit. Settles stood by former Detroit Tigers left fielder Willie Horton at William Clay Ford Field in Detroit.

The game, presented by the UAW-Ford Department, was played by Detroit youth between the age of 7 and 18 who participate in Play Baseball Detroit, which is managed by the city’s recreation department and is supported by the Detroit Tigers Foundation and Ilitch Charities.

“We are trying to bring baseball back in Detroit,” Settles said.

Contact Brent Snavely: 313-222-6512 or bsnavely@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrentSnavely.