Ford expected to add jobs at Ky. Truck Plant

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Ford says its two Louisville auto plants are slated to get an additional $1.3 billion in upgrades if members of the United Auto Workers’ union ratify a proposed 4-year labor contract in the coming days.

As part of the contract negotiations, Ford outlined $9 billion in planned “product investments” and other upgrades to its U.S. manufacturing plants in future years.

Louisville Assembly Plant, where Ford makes the Escape and Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicles, is slated to get $700 million in investments.

Kentucky Truck Plant, where Ford makes Super Duty pickup trucks, the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, is slated for $600 million in upgrades.

The company also promises 8,500 “new or secured” jobs in future years across all U.S. plants – though there are no specifics about how many new jobs may be headed for Louisville.

While Ford has announced more than a billion dollars in investments in the two Louisville plants over the last five years, the upgrades promised as part of the new UAW contract represent additional money coming to the facilities, said Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski.

Ford’s list of plant upgrades, included in the UAW’s highlights of the new contract, also gives some hints about product changes ahead for Louisville.

At Louisville Assembly – or LAP, off Fern Valley Road – Ford will phase out production of the Lincoln MKC in coming years.

Production of the luxury SUV will likely move elsewhere to free up more of LAP’s capacity for the Escape, of which Ford can’t seem to make enough, Adamski said.

At Kentucky Truck, or KTP, Ford says production of the Navigator and Expedition will continue with a “major investment.” The plant is also slated to get  the “all new” version of the Super Duty trucks.

Like the new F-150s, the next generation of Super Duty trucks will be composed of more aluminum and less steel, a move that makes the body lighter and more fuel efficient.

Ford also says certain work will “in-sourced” to KTP – “instrument panel, cooling module (and) rear door subs.”

UAW Local 862 President Todd Dunn was not available for comment Monday. Louisville workers will get a chance to ask questions about the proposed contract this week, followed by a vote in the coming days. The UAW represents nearly 9,000 workers between Ford's two Louisville plants.

The proposed contract includes a number of wage increases, inflation adjustments, profit-sharing payments and a one-time $8,500 signing bonus for all UAW members. Ford also proposes to make a $1,500-per-worker profit-sharing payment early, for a total of $10,000 paid immediately after the contract is ratified.

The deal includes a "new path" to veteran UAW wages for Ford's second-tier workers, who were hired after October 2011 and currently earn about $16 to $20 an hour.

The contract would step those workers up to $28 an hour over 7 years, followed by an increase to the unspecified "traditional" wage in the eighth year.

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