Ford announced on March 3 that it will reduce to one shift its operations at Chicago Assembly Plant, Louisville Assembly Plant and Cleveland Engine #2 and delay restart of production at Cleveland Engine #1 until the fourth quarter of this year.
The change to a one-shift production pattern does not affect production volume said the company but instead "allows the plants to operate more efficiently by running continually and reducing down weeks." Approximately 2,500 employees will be affected at the three plants.
"We remain focused on our plan to return the North American automotive business to profitability," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "These actions are necessary as we align our capacity and product mix to meet real customer demand."
Ford is currently offering its U.S. hourly workforce the opportunity to select from one of 10 retirement and buyout packages, including special offers that provide money for education and a new entrepreneurial package that offer employees interested in starting a business a lump sum payout and family health insurance coverage. Ford also enhanced its package offering for retirement-eligible employees.
"The buyouts and capacity actions are designed to ensure that our manufacturing facilities are operating in the most efficient way," said Joe Hinrichs, group vice president, Global Manufacturing. "By adjusting our operating patterns in this way, we can produce the right volume and avoid down weeks. The stability in operations is better for our employees, our suppliers and the quality of the product."
The Chicago Assembly Plant, opened in 1924, currently builds the Ford Taurus, Taurus X, Mercury Sable and will be home to the all-new 2009 Lincoln MKS, which will arrive in dealer showrooms this summer. It employs approximately 2,300 workers. The plant is slated to receive an additional new product as outlined in the 2007 UAW-Ford Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires in 2011.
Opened in 1955, Louisville Assembly Plant produces the Ford Explorer, Explorer Sport Trac and Mercury Mountaineer. It currently has approximately, 2,200 employees and is slated to receive an investment in a new body shop and a new product as outlined in the 2007 UAW-Ford Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires in 2011.
Opened in 1955, Cleveland Engine Plant #2 produces the 3.0-liter engine. It employs approximately 800 employees. Cleveland Engine Plant #1, which opened in 1951, produced the Duratec 3.5-liter engine until it was temporarily idled in May 2007. Production of the 3.5-liter continues at Lima Engine Plant.