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CHICAGO (CBS) — An agreement between Ford Motor Co. and the auto union will clear the way for 1,100 new jobs at the Ford plant on the Southeast Side.
Ford and the United Auto Workers reached a tenative four-year contract agreement that will pay the automaker’s U.S. factory workers a $6,000 signing bonus and add thousands of U.S. factory jobs, including the 1,100 at the Chicago plant on Torrence Avenue.
In total, Ford plans to add 5,750 U.S. factory jobs under the deal, on top of 6,250 it announced earlier this year, for a total of 12,000 jobs by 2015. It also pledged to invest $4.8 billion in its U.S. factories.
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Ford has spent $400 million to renovate the Torrence facility to build the 2011 Explorer SUV. The Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans are also built there. The company also operates a stamping plant in Chicago Heights.
Outside the Torrence Avenue plant, there were no signs of the big deal on the horizon on Tuesday, but there were rumblings.
“I heard about that they want to open up the plant and bring in more people, which I think is great for everybody,” Ford worker Darnell Stevens said.
Stevens and many of his co-workers weren’t surprised that Ford wants to add a third shift at the Chicago plant.
The agreement also calls on Ford to invest $16 billion in its U.S. operations, with more than $6 billion of that going directly to manufacturing plants. After years of negotiations, both Ford and UAW leadership are pleased with the deal.
“We had our team stay all the way through the night, putting everything together and making sure everything was agreed to and everything was initialed,” Marty Mulloy, Ford’s Vice President of Labor Affairs said.
UAW Vice President James Settles Jr. said, “Our membership not only wanted wages, they wanted to make certain they had security in jobs.”
And union members said some of that security comes from Ford’s plan to “insource” some of the work it currently outsources.
“That’s what we need. We have too many jobs out in other countries. We need more of our jobs here in the United States,” Stevens said.
But some union members said that, while the deal sounds good, they’re taking a wait-and-see approach.
“They can promise you anything, you know, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty — hard to say what they’re going to do,” Anthony Oberman said.
Under the tentative agreement, Ford also plans to invest $200 million in its Chicago operations. The deal still needs to be approved by Ford’s 41,000 union workers. If it is, approved, priority on those new jobs will be given to laid off UAW workers, according to a UAW spokesperson.