News Column

Ford-UAW Contract To Create More Jobs

Oct 19, 2011

Alejandra Cancino


The new four-year contract between the United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor company will create additional jobs onChicago's Far South Side, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office said Tuesday.

The mayor's office said the city did not provide incentives for the new jobs. However, Gov. Pat Quinn's administration said last week that the deal was predicated on the state providing financial assistance, including tax credits, $3 million in grants and $2.95 million in training funds. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said the state is still finalizing the amount of tax credits the company could receive. The credits will be based on the number of jobs created and/or retained and the company's investment in the state.

Quinn's office didn't provide further details. The new contract was ratified Tuesday night.

In addition to the 1,200 manufacturing jobs to be created at the assembly plant on Torrence Avenue, 230 jobs will be created across the street at Ford's North American supplier park to support the production of the Police Interceptor. Additional manufacturing and support jobs are expected to be created over time, the mayor's office said.

The jobs at the assembly plant are part of Ford's pledge to add 12,000 hourly jobs at its U.S. manufacturing facilities by 2015. The new hires in Chicago will work the third shift at the assembly plant, making entry-level wages of $19.28 an hour over the term of the contract. The new contract will also add 400 jobs to Ford's stamping plant inChicago Heights, which makes body panels, including hoods, roofs and doors.

Ford now employs a total of about 3,500 unionized workers at both plants.

Nationwide, Ford employs about 40,600 union workers, including about 100 entry-level workers and roughly 2,250 part-time workers.

The company is investing $117 million at the assembly plant, which builds the Ford Explorer, Taurus and Taurus SHO and the Lincoln MKS, and $86 million at the stamping plant, according to a contract summary provided by the UAW.

It is not the first time Ford has received incentives to increase its workforce in Illinois. In 2004, the company received $5.7 million in training funds. Three years later, Ford received another incentives package from the state worth $6.2 million in additional training funds and grants, according to the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

That package also included the possibility of taking credits against corporate income tax liabilities, at an estimated cost of $25.8 million over 10 years. Ford had not received any credits through 2009, according to an annual report.

Reasons vary as to why companies don't qualify for the credits, but in 2009, automakers pushed to use the credits against withheld employee income taxes instead. Quinn signed that break for automakers at the end of that year.

Since then, truck- and engine-maker Navistar and Motorola Mobility, among others, have received similar deals.

Quinn said the 2009 tax credit revision played a key role in Ford's decision to add 1,200 jobs and invest $400 million to produce the new Explorer SUV at the assembly plant on the Far South Side.

Tribune reporter Kathy Bergen contributed to this article.

Source: (c)2011 the Chicago Tribune

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