Ford's Car Cull Decision Spills Over to Michigan Workers [Updated]

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fords car cull decision spills over to michigan workers updated

The decision to ditch all passenger cars save for the Mustang didn’t lead to immediate pain among Ford’s American workforce, but it soon will. As the automaker’s restructuring plan has only just begun, Ford found itself spared from the kind of vitriol flung at rival General Motors, which recently outlined a workforce reduction of up to 15,000 employees.

But pain is coming — to Ford’s Van Dyke transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Unlike the Midwestern workforce switcheroo that followed shift cuts at two plants last month, it doesn’t look like every worker will find a new home this time.

(Ed. note — Ford has reached out to confirm that all effected employees will find a new work home. Here, in full, is their statement: “As we continue to rebalance our production to match capacity with customer demand, we are planning a reduction of approximately 230 jobs at Van Dyke Transmission Plant in the first quarter of 2019. All full-time hourly employees affected will be offered jobs at another Ford plant.”).

As reported by Wards Auto, Ford has told UAW Local 228 that cuts totalling 230 workers would begin at the suburban Detroit plant in March in order to “rebalance our production to match capacity with customer demand.”

The plant employs some 1,500 workers tasked with building transmissions for a number of vehicles, some of which have the misfortune of being cars. Specifically, the Focus, which departed Michigan Assembly last spring after Ford shifted future assembly to Mexico, then China, before discontinuing the model altogether in North America. The now-extinct C-Max hybrid also sourced its tranny from Van Dyke, as does the Fusion sedan, which received its death notice earlier this year. That model is expected to hang around in some form until 2021.

Responding to the automaker’s notice, UAW 228 said workers with seniority will be able to transfer to positions at Ford’s nearby axle plant. Meanwhile, the automaker offered to transfer workers to whatever positions exist at its Romeo, Michigan and Lima, Ohio engine plants, as well as Chicago Assembly. The available positions likely won’t total 230.

Last month, Ford cut shifts at its Louisville and Flat Rock assembly plants, though displaced workers were told they could move to the nearby Kentucky truck plant and Livonia transmission plant, with no jobs lost.

While it’s true Ford handed the Focus and C-Max a cigarette and blindfold before making its big car cull announcement, the product shift is nonetheless altering the company’s manufacturing landscape. The Fiesta, also doomed in 2019, is made in Mexico, preventing it from generating negative headlines in the United States. Workers currently building the Taurus in Chicago will likely all switch to building the 2020 Explorer and Lincoln Aviator when the aging sedan ceases production next March.

The Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, of course, hail from Mexico, where their trunks often gain lucrative cargo before crossing the border into the U.S.

A [s]big[/s] massive shoe that’s yet to drop concerns Ford’s white-collar workforce, which numbers around 70,000 on a global scale. Part of Ford’s $11 billion restructuring involves a reduction in salaried employees. How many, exactly, isn’t yet known, and Ford’s refusing to speculate on a number, but Morgan Stanley suggests the figure could be in the neighborhood of 20,000.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Wjtinfwb Over the years I've owned 3, one LH (a Concorde) a Gen 1 300 and a Gen 2 300C "John Varvatos". The Concorde was a very nice car for the time with immense room inside and decent power from the DOHC 3.5L. But quality was awful, it spent more time in the shop than the driveway. It gave way to a Gen 1 300, OK but the V6 was underwhelming in this car compared to the Concorde but did it's job. The Gen 1's letdown was the awful interior with acres of plastic, leather that did it's best imitation of vinyl and a featureless dashboard that looked lifted from a cheaper car. My last one was a '14 300C John Varvatos with the Pentastar. Great car, sufficient power and exceptional highway mileage. The interior was much better than the original as well. It was felled by a defective instrument cluster that took over 90 days to fix and was ultimately lemon law' d back to FCA. I'd love one of the 392 powered final edition 300s but understand they're already sold out and if I had an extra 60k available, would likely choose a CPO BMW 540i for comparable money.
  • Dukeisduke Thanks Cary. Folks need to make sure they buy the correct antifreeze, since there are so many OEM-specific ones out there nowadays (Dex-Cool, Ford gold, Toyota red and pink, etc.).And sorry to hear about your family situation - my wife and I have been dealing with her 88-yo mom, moving her into independent senior living, selling her house, etc. It's a lot to deal with.
  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.