Feb. 04—Ford Motor Co. officially notified the state of Michigan that it plans to do a “mass layoff” of 1,000 hourly factory workers by April 1, though the carmaker emphasizes that most of the workers are moving to other factories rather than losing jobs.
Some 440 workers classified as temporary who are affected by the shift reduction are not protected by the UAW contract are not guaranteed jobs at other locations.
“We first notified employees of this on Nov. 28, 2018,” Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said Monday. “We notified them that we would be moving Flat Rock Assembly Plant to a one-shift operating pattern in the spring.”
She added, “All full-time hourly employees affected by the move will be offered a position in another Ford plant, with the vast majority moving to the Livonia Transmission Plant.”
Distance between the two Michigan plants is approximately 30 miles.
The letter of notice, dated Jan. 25, fulfills a federal labor law requirement that companies with more than 100 employees provide 60 calendar days’ notification of a plant closing or mass layoff. The figure of 1,012 employees provided by Ford includes 12 salaried positions.
Ford’s letter says 1,012 workers will be laid off by April 1. It says the number may be less due to “voluntary quits, retirements, transfers.”
Since November 2018, the projected number of impacted workers has dropped from 1,150 to 1,012.
“This is something we told employees last fall, long before we had to, because we wanted to help them be able to move to different locations,” Felker explained, noting that a handful of workers not going to Livonia will be offered jobs in other parts of southeast Michigan and at U.S. plants outside the state.
How it’s different from GM
This situation is different from General Motors’ controversial plant closings because Ford has said publicly it is committed to keeping workers employed and has not announced any plans to shutter factories. Ford has emphasized recently a need to expand worker hours to build high-demand trucks and SUVs.
The shift reduction in Flat Rock is expected to affect 560 hourly non-skilled employees, 440 hourly non-skilled temporary workers and 12 salaried employees, according to the state notice, which complies with what’s officially called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (the WARN Act).
Ford said previously it had 500 new jobs in Livonia, which would accommodate most of the 560 full-time hourly non-skilled employees. The balance of those workers will be offered jobs in southeast Michigan, Felker said. “This does not mean 500 people are leaving Michigan. We have a number of other Ford plants. We believe temporary workers, too, will receive job offers.”
A Ford statement to the media in November said, “To meet strong customer demand for our full-size SUVs and trucks, Ford is rebalancing production at some of our U.S. plants, further increasing our efficiency while retaining jobs for all full-time hourly employees.”
Ford said in November it would be adding approximately 500 jobs at Livonia Transmission Plant, which builds transmissions for a number of vehicles, including the Ford F-150 and Ford Ranger.
“Ford has a long history of new business at old addresses,” said Jon Gabrielsen, a market economist who consults with the auto industry. “This appears very much in keeping with Ford’s culture of doing their very best to take care of their well-trained and existing employees. It’s a mutual benefit for everybody.”
UAW Vice President Rory Gamble said Monday, “We have been informed by Ford that due to sales, there will be scheduled work reductions at the Flat Rock, Michigan, and Louisville, Kentucky, plants. Our collectively bargained contract provides for the placement of all members displaced by the shift reduction and, after working with Ford, we are confident that all impacted employees will have the opportunity to work at nearby facilities.”
He noted, “The UAW will be working with our members to ensure they have continuous work and help minimize, as much as possible, any hardship on members and their families.”
Ford could not immediately say how many temporary workers might be affected by changes in Kentucky, where 500 workers will move from Louisville Assembly to Kentucky Truck Assembly, also in Louisville.
Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-222-6512. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid
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