by Eric Sandy
The new investment, all $168 million of it, follows the 2011 collective bargaining agreement struck between Ford and the United Auto Workers (UAW). The move promises no new jobs, according to Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas. In fact, this news does little more than maintain life at the Ohio Assembly Plant, which has long produced the soon-to-be-extinct Econoline van.
The gap in labor costs in the U.S. and in Mexico is closing, as reports describe, and the F-series truck line is so profitable for the company that any real difference is negligible. Currently, the Ohio Assembly Plant is hovering around 60 percent operational capacity (1,590 employees, after this year's round of some 200 layoffs). The F-series production move puts the plant on a path toward something closer to 97 percent capacity by 2016 or so. Hinrichs has told other media outlets that this move has much to do with both utilizing underutilized resources and severing contentious ties with Navistar, the company that formerly partnered with Ford in General Escobedo, Mexico.
A 2007 letter from Ford U.S. Labor Affairs Director Bill Dirksen to UAW VP and Director Bob King expresses a desire "to work aggressively...to identify possible future product opportunities for the [Avon Lake] plant." Dirksen repeated the contents of the letter for several other notable U.S. Ford plants, all with the same degree of vague optimism. And now future product opportunities have arrived.