Ford to retool plant, add 1,800 jobs
Ford Motor Co. is the latest US automaker to hire hundreds of workers as the economy picks up and auto sales improve.
At an announcement at its Louisville, Ky., assembly plant, Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, said the factory plans to hire 1,800 more employees — or nearly 5 percent of Ford’s current US workforce — to build a new version of the Ford Escape. It is the second-best-selling small SUV in the United States, behind the Honda CR-V.
Ford will invest $600 million in a yearlong renovation of the plant. Fields said the upgrades will help Ford shift to smaller cars and be more competitive.
When the plant reopens in late 2011, it will be one of the most advanced in the company, able to switch quickly between car models in response to consumer demand.
Fields said such flexibility is necessary as the market grows more competitive. Competitors such as Toyota and Hyundai have newer, more nimble US plants.
The Louisville plant will be running on two shifts with 2,900 workers when it reopens. Some of the 1,800 added workers will be new hires, but many will be rehired after having been laid off, Ford said. Under a 2007 contract, new hires will make about $14, or half what veteran workers are paid. Ford will get $240 million in tax incentives from state and local governments over a decade.