Ford Motor Co. told factory workers Wednesday that it would shift more than 1,150 workers to different plants to meet demand for SUVs and trucks but would protect their jobs.
No U.S. plants are being idled, Ford said.
The decision, announced to workers around noon Wednesday, affects workers in Michigan and Kentucky.
Specifically, Ford plans to:
_ Move 500 workers from the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant to the Kentucky Truck Assembly.
_ Move 500 jobs to Livonia Transmission, which supplies product for F-Series pickup trucks and the new Ford Ranger
_ Reduce production at Flat Rock Assembly Plant from two shifts to one shift, affecting 650 workers.
_ Make available job transfers for remaining full-time workers affected.
“We think it’s important for our employees to hear directly from us,” Kelli Felker, manager for manufacturing and labor communications at Ford, said minutes before calling a town hall for workers in Kentucky.
Michigan workers had a letter handed to them at lunchtime.
The UAW was notified prior to the company announcement of Ford’s plans. Ford’s move was in contrast to the unfolding of events this week involving General Motors, where workers said they were shocked to learn from news reports that five plants would be shuttered in Michigan, Ohio and Canada.
“In order to meet strong customer demand for full-sized SUVs and trucks, we’re rebalancing production at some U.S. plants,” Felker told the Free Press. “What that does for us is further increases our efficiency and, most importantly, it retains jobs for all full-time hourly employees.”
She noted that the Ford Expedition is seeing a 36 percent jump in sales from a year ago, Lincoln Navigator is seeing an 80 percent increase in sales from a year ago and F-Series trucks are up 2 percent _ outselling the second-place competitor by 280,000 vehicles through October 2018.
The shift changes and reallocation of workers will allow Ford to increase production of the Expedition and Navigator by about 20 percent, Felker said.
Also, Louisville Assembly will move from a three-shift pattern to a two-shift pattern next spring.
“We have high demand for the F-150 and the Ranger is expected to be in dealerships early next year,” Felker said. “All full-time hourly employees affected will be offered jobs at another Ford plant.”
As for the temporary workforce? Ford is “still working out the details” with plans to “make every effort to find them jobs at other Ford plants.”
Ford is getting ready to post openings for jobs in Livonia and the company wants to give Flat Rock workers an opportunity to get the paperwork completed, Felker said. The same procedure follows at Kentucky Truck.
UAW Vice President Rory Gamble said in a statement Wednesday that the labor union is working with members on the shift reduction and placement of members, who are protected by a collectively bargained contract. “The UAW will be working with our members to ensure they have a continuous work and help minimize, as much as possible, any hardship on members and their families.”
The UAW will begin negotiations with car companies in 2019 to craft a new contract.
Ivan Drury, senior analyst for Edmunds, said in response to the news, “Ford’s gamble on trucks is paying off, which should put both investors and employees at ease.”
Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, said President Donald Trump, who is angry at GM, is sure to praise Ford for its “no layoffs” announcement.
“When people see GM make an announcement about cutting jobs, they think, ‘When is the shoe doing to drop?’ If you’re going to make an announcement about moving product, you should make certain it’s coupled with an announcement that no layoffs will take place,” Masters said.
“What Ford is trying to convey to the employees, and to the market, is that they are shifting their focus to the more profitable end of the market. And fortunately, especially at this time of the year, this announcement comes with no layoffs. It gives employees an opportunity to adjust to the transition that the company plans to make. I think it’s very consistent with their previously announced strategy and transformation and restructuring plan that’s in the works.”
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