The U.S. auto industry is in the midst of its strongest growth period since 1996, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said today at the Ford Motor Co.'s Flat Rock assembly plant in Michigan. Ford just announced it will be adding 1,200 new workers to the Detroit-area plant in expectation that the revamped Fusion sedan will see an increase in sales this fall. Working together, the plant workers, who are members of the UAW, and the company have increased productivity and brought jobs back to the United States.
Ford and other automakers have been hiring at a rapid pace to keep up with U.S. sales, which are expected to increase by 1.5 million this year over the 12.8 million sold in 2011....
Ford Motor Co. will hire the workers for a second shift at Flat Rock next spring. Some of them will be new, but others will be workers who were laid off at other Ford plants, [Ford Americas President Mark] Fields said. The company will also invest $555 million in new equipment at the 25-year-old plant to make the Fusion. Currently, the plant has around 1,700 workers on one shift making the Ford Mustang.
Ford has only made Fusions in Mexico until now. But labor contracts passed in 2007 and 2011 lowered Ford’s U.S. costs, and the company promised to move some production from Mexico to the U.S.
This new development is also evidence that President Obama's action to save the auto industry is still having positive effects on the economy.
UAW Vice President James Settles, who directs the UAW-Ford Department, said:
Today was a great day for our UAW members at the Flat Rock assembly plant in Michigan. In the recent UAW contract with Ford, the company committed to add 5,750 new UAW jobs, bringing the total to 12,000 new direct Ford jobs with those announced since the economic crisis. None of this would have been possible without President Obama saving the auto industry. Bringing production of the Ford Fusion from Mexico has long been a dream of UAW President Bob King and it has finally come to fruition.
In her speech, Solis praised the UAW and all Michigan plant workers for being "some of the finest auto workers anywhere in the world":
This is such a great American success story. Even at the depths of our recession, we knew to bet on the skill and determination of American autoworkers. And now, that bet is paying off....
You're also showing what can be achieved when management and labor work together. Labor-management partnerships have helped drive our auto industry's growth during our recovery. And it's the right kind of economic growth. It's the kind that shows we can compete in tomorrow's global economy without returning to the policies of yesterday. It shows that collaboration is profitable. Industry succeeds when labor sits at the table with management and ideas are shared.
I think the sentiment was captured by Bob King—the president of UAW. Bob said: "The public is looking at us now to see if we've learned anything from the crisis or if we'll return to business as usual." He said: "Our union has learned many lessons from the crisis. The 21st century UAW views management not as the enemy, but as a partner."