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Ford Expects Hiring 3,100 Jobs By End of 2012

Ford Motor Company expects to hire all the new employees for its two Louisville plants by the end of next year.

Gov. Steve Beshear joined Mayor Greg Fischer and Ford Motor President of the Americas Mark Fields in Louisville on Thursday. The politicians cheered the ratification of a new 4-year contract between Ford and the United Auto Workers union in front of around 20 local UAW members.

The contract invests $1.2 billion and adds 3,100 jobs to the Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant. Hiring for the second shift at the L.A.P. is already underway. Ford expects to have the process complete by next summer, said Fields, and Ford will give precedent for the jobs to previous local UAW members.

“Also the Folks that are currently working in Kansas City that produce the Escape, they have the opportunity per the UAW contract, to follow their product so to speak. I would say as we look at the third shift we’ll probably see for the most past a majority of those folks that will be hired will be new hires,” said Fields.

Hiring for the third shift will begin sometime next year, depending on market demand for the new Escape SUV, he said. Profits for the current Escape hit a record first half, he said.

Beshear said expanding production may help spawn additional investments.

“And I expect to see more evidence of that in the months and the years to come,” he said.

Ford officials did not say if spin-off investments were likely in Louisville or Kentucky. The company already purchases from more than 180 suppliers across this state, said officials.

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United Auto Workers Union Officially Ratifies Contract With Ford Motors

The United Auto Workers union has officially ratified its four-year contract with the Ford Motor Company.

Louisville’s local 862 UAW helped push for ratification after 53 percent of union workers at Louisville’s two plants favored the new contract. Voting ended Tuesday night on the contract, which includes over $1 billion of investments at the two Louisville facilities.

“We didn’t tell people how to vote,” said Todd Dunn, president of UAW 862. “We wanted to make sure we answered every question they had, whether it be on the floor giving explanations or at the explanation meeting. That was our main goal was to answer the questions, dispel the rumors and mistruths, because there were a lot out on the floor,” he said.

Dunn said rumors about the contract’s details led many union members to be concerned.

“It was just rumors, rumors where somebody says one thing and it grows to another and the next thing you know its out on the floor it’s on Facebook and it gets out of whack,” said Dunn.

Many union members were still not pleased with the contract. Several concessions that workers made when Ford decided to remain independent from a federal bailout were left out like overtime pay and additional holidays, but it does include signing bonuses and inflation payments.

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Louisville’s Ford Union Ratifies New 4-Year Contract

Louisville’s local United Auto Workers union has voted in favor of a new contract with Ford Motor Company. The last of the votes were counted Tuesday night and Louisville’s Local UAW 862 helped push for ratification of the agreement.

Local UAW 862 voted with a slight majority of 53 percent to ratify the agreement, according to the local’s Facebook page. Ford and the UAW reached an agreement on Oct. 4 but workers had to ratify it with a majority vote. The contract promises more than $1.2 billion in investments at Ford’s two Kentucky assembly plants.

The agreement covers around 41,000 Ford workers in the U.S. The UAW has now reached agreements with two of the three Detroit automakers. General Motors Company reached an agreement last month and Chrysler Group LLC will wrap up voting next week.

Last week, some local unions in Chicago and Michigan shot down the contract and it was unclear which way the ratification of the contract would sway. Workers who opposed the agreement have voiced concern that the contract doesn’t give back some of the things they lost in previous agreements when Ford tried to remain independent of a federal bailout. Some concessions they gave up include annual raises, cost-of-living increases and additional holidays.

Most workers won’t get annual raises under the contract, but they will get profit-sharing checks, and inflation adjustment payments through 2015.

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Louisville’s UAW Union Votes on Ford Motor Contract Next Week

Louisville’s local United Auto Workers union will vote on an agreement with Ford Motor Company next week.

Michigan’s local union voted against the agreement Tuesday. Skilled-trade workers were less in favor of the contract than production workers. Around 50 percent of all reporting local unions have decided the contract doesn’t meet the concerns of union employees. A UAW majority vote is needed to accept any agreement with Ford.

Unions are voting on a four-year contract that hasn’t replaced some key concessions lost in previous agreements with Ford Motors.

The new agreement would invest in new productions and create around 1,600 new jobs at Ford’s two Kentucky plants. Local union leaders are expected to host question and answer sessions on the contract this weekend.

Louisville members will vote next Monday and Tuesday.

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Ending Jobs Bank Could Hurt Local Economy

When President Bush announced a government loan to General Motors and Chrysler last week, he called for the end of the jobs bank program, which provides benefits and partial wages for laid-off employees.

While Ford is not set to receive aid anytime soon, ending the jobs bank program could hurt former Ford employees in Louisville. Retail researcher John Talmage says ending the program during a restructuring of the Big Three automakers would leave thousands of workers without pay or updated skills.

“The most important thing for a laid-off worker is to find a new job as quickly as possible,” he says. “If the infrastructure that supports sustaining that worker during that unemployment and retraining, retooling and redeploying that worker ends, then, in this economy, it’s going to be very hard to make those kind of matches.”

The United Auto Workers union previously agreed to suspend the jobs bank program to help the struggling automakers.

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UAW Members Rally For Big Three Loan

UAW WorkersWith the heads of the Big Three automakers in Washington asking for financial assistance, local United Auto Workers union members are encouraging Congress to approve loans for the companies.

At a UAW rally at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Local 862 President Rocky Comito said if Ford, GM and Chrysler go under, it would bring chaos to the entire industry.

“The parts suppliers that supply parts to us are the same ones who supply them to Toyota, Hundai, whoever,” he said. “So it’s not just the big three, it’s all the automotive industry.”Ford

The Big Three are requesting up to $34 billion in bridge loans. They say the funds are necessary to stay afloat in the recession, with new investments needed to produce fuel-efficient cars.

Retired UAW worker Joe Dennis attended the rally. He says his pension and health benefits also depend on the loan.

“I put 35 years in,” he says. “I’m like everyone else – you like think that’s a guaranteed income, but it’s not. If something happens to this company or the big three, I’ll lose everything I work for.”

Kentucky Truck Plant Chairman Scott Eskridge says the loans are crucial to the Big Three’s survival.

“If we don’t get this bridge loan, GM ain’t going to make it to the end of the year. They’re not going to have the money to pay their suppliers and employees to the first of the year,” he says. “Unfortunately, bankruptcy is the only option.”

Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville also spoke at the rally. He says there may not be enough votes in the Senate to approve the loan until the new Congress is sworn in next year.