Ford Cuts Factory Shifts, Comes Out Looking Like the Golden Child

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford cuts factory shifts comes out looking like the golden child

Have you heard about that other American automaker — the one that doesn’t callously ruin lives? This question, no doubt percolating inside the craniums of U.S. lawmakers and pundits, doesn’t need to be spoken to be heard.

What would normally be a simple announcement of a production increase at one plant and a decrease at two others took on a symbolic nature this week. Ford wants to build more large SUVs but requires fewer cars. Thanks to a quirk of geography, no layoffs are planned — something that can’t be said of GM’s scorched earth plan, right?

It shakes out like this: Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant, builder of the popular Expedition and Lincoln Navigator (as well as the Super Duty pickup line), has pressure on it to boost production. People want those big luxo rigs, and the Blue Oval has stated in the past that Kentucky will end up building more SUVs than initially expected.

Meanwhile, the Louisville Assembly Plant, home of the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC, doesn’t have the same pressure. Ford plans to go to move from three shifts to two in the spring. Up north, the Flat Rock plant in Michigan will go from two shifts to one, all due to reduced demand for the Ford Mustang and especially the Lincoln Continental.

The proximity of healthier plants means no layoffs are planned at this time. Some 500 workers from Louisville will head to the nearby Kentucky truck plant to build larger vehicles, while 500 members of the Flat Rock contingent will head to the Livonia Transmission Plant to build six- and 10-speed automatics. (Ford planned to add to its Livonia workforce following a $350 million upgrade announced last year.)

About 150 other Flat Rock workers will be sent to other Ford plants in the region, the automaker claims.

In a statement reported by Automotive News, UAW Vice President Rory Gamble said, “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.”

Of course, the news comes just two days after GM opened the bomb bay doors of its corporate Stratofortress and jettisoned up to 14,800 future pink slips on its North American workforce, announcing the impending closure of assembly plants in Ontario, Ohio, and metro Detroit, and two transmission plants in Maryland and Michigan. While the economics of building a number of steadily declining car models in increasingly lonely factories was not lost on analysts, the rage sparked by the announcement hasn’t abated a bit.

Taking to Twitter late last night, President Trump stated, “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. Nothing being closed in Mexico & China. The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including …. for electric cars. General Motors made a big China bet years ago when they built plants there (and in Mexico) – don’t think that bet is going to pay off. I am here to protect America’s Workers!”

GM’s stock, which rose modestly in the wake of forward-sounding statements from Mary Barra about keeping the automaker healthy in tumultuous times, tumbled.

Trump also raised the prospect of imposing import tariffs on foreign automobiles, referencing the “chicken tax” of the 1960s. “The President has great power on this issue – Because of the G.M. event, it is being studied now!” he tweeted Wednesday morning, underscoring his Monday promise to Barra to “put a lot of pressure” on her company.

While Ford sailed through this production shuffle almost completely unscathed, the “no jobs lost” assertion won’t carry over to the company’s $11 billion restructuring plan. That bombshell has yet to fall.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Jimmy2x Jimmy2x on Nov 29, 2018

    The constant political bickering is really getting old. I’ve been mostly lurking here since the Farago days, and while there has always been some of it , now it seems like a Twitter fight. Most of us don’t give a damn about your political views and you are just embarrassing yourselves.

  • Lon888 Lon888 on Nov 29, 2018

    I'm glad Ford is doing well, but I don't want them to be a suck up to that orange skinned d-bag.

  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
  • Dukeisduke They're where Tesla was when it started - a complete unknown. I haven't heard anything about a dealer network. How are they going to sell these? Direct like Tesla? Franchises picked up by existing new car dealers?
  • Master Baiter As I approach retirement, and watch my IRA and 401K account balances dwindle, I have less and less interest in $150K vehicles.
  • Azfelix With a name that sounds like a bad Google translation, problems appear to permeate every aspect of the company. I suggest a more aggressive advertising campaign during The Super Terrific Happy Hour show to turn things around.
  • Buickman GoneFast.