“We just finished with our preproduction builds. We’re right now doing all the work stations and everything else and probably most of the maintenance guys are going through orientations on some of the transference, finishing them up,” said Steve Stone, the local United Auto Workers’ bargaining chairman.
The plant should have two full shifts up and running in the middle of March, including nearly 2,900 workers who will soon crank out the new Escape, he said. This will add nearly 700 positions to the 2,200 that have been working on a pre-production build of the sport utility vehicle.
“In about two to three weeks we’ll have the rest of the people come in here plus some new hires probably by March; new hires that have never been in Ford before or are a transfer from another location under the contract,” he said.
Ford will likely begin full production of the Escape shortly after the second shift is set, said Stone. The company expects to sell at least 254,000 new Escapes, which would meet last year’s mark, he said.
To do this, a third crew is expected to be hired later this year, adding 1,300 employees, mostly people who have never worked for Ford. The third crew will work Friday through Monday to help the company meet its production goals, said Stone.