AP Auto Writer
TRAVERSE CITY, MI (AP) — Competitive contracts with the United Auto Workers union are helping Ford Motor Co. bring nearly 2,000 jobs back into its factories that would have gone to parts supply companies — some in other countries, the company said Wednesday.
The Dearborn, MI, automaker said the 2007 union master contract allows it to hire workers at $14 per hour, about half the hourly rate of current workers. Factory-level contracts have also changed work rules to make the plants more efficient.
Ford said it has already brought about 1,340 jobs into 24 of its plants, assembling parts that otherwise would have been made by outside companies. It plans to bring in another 635 jobs by 2012 for a total of 1,975.
The UAW has worked with Ford "closely on a more competitive agreement that helped us create the business case for moving more work back to Ford facilities, and back to America," Ford Americas President Mark Fields said at an auto industry conference in Traverse City, MI., on Wednesday.
The company could not say exactly how many jobs came into its plants from outside the U.S., but it said gas-electric hybrid transmission components were brought in from Japan, battery pack assembly will come from Mexico, steel forging will come from India and transmission gear machining will come from Japan.
Most of the work is assembling parts such as moon roofs, instrument panels, engine components and doors. Ford said by bringing the work into its own plants, it can make sure its quality standards are followed, continuing its drive for better quality and reliability.
The company agreed in the 2007 union contract to bring 1,559 jobs to its plants from outside. Wednesday's commitment exceeds the company's promise to the union by more than 25 percent, Ford said in a statement.
Many of the jobs will go to factories in Chicago; Sharonville, Ohio, near Cincinnati; and Wayne, Ypsilanti Township and Sterling Heights, Mich., near Detroit, Ford said.
So far, Ford has recalled laid-off workers to fill the new jobs and has not been able to hire at the $14 per hour rate. But even at the higher wage rate of older workers, bringing the work back into the plants makes sense, spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.
"It's all based on the long-term business case," she said.
Ford expects to begin hiring workers at the lower wage soon at its Chicago assembly plant, which makes the new Ford Explorer.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.