DETROIT, MI (WKBW-Detroit Press) By: Keith Naughton ( Bloomberg News ) Ford Motor Co., weeks before entering contract talks with the United Auto Workers, said it plans to lay off 150 workers in New York state who make body panels for the soon-to-be-discontinued Lincoln Town Car.
The workers at Ford's stamping plant in the Buffalo area will lose their jobs in September, according to a filing Thursday with the New York Department of Labor. The layoffs represent 23 percent of the 61-year-old factory's 651 hourly workers, according to Ford's website.
The Buffalo layoffs result from Ford's decision to halt production of the Town Car, the Ford Crown Victoria and the Mercury Grand Marquis, all made at an assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. The St. Thomas plant will close in September, said Marcey Evans, a spokeswoman.
"Buffalo Stamping plant is the primary provider of automotive sheet metal stampings for the vehicles assembled at the St. Thomas plant," according to the filing. "The reduced volume will result in these layoffs."
No other layoffs are expected at Ford's U.S. plants as a result of the St. Thomas closing, Evans said. The second-largest U.S. automaker will work with the UAW to find new jobs for the workers, Evans said.
"It's hard to say today what the opportunities could be," Evans said in an interview Friday. "It's possible they could be placed back at Buffalo if new work is brought in to that facility or it's possible they could be offered an opportunity to transfer to another location."
UAW Local 897 President Charlie Gangarossa, who represents workers at the Buffalo plant, didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.
UAW President Bob King, 64, will negotiate new contracts this year with Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC to replace agreements expiring Sept. 14. King has said workers must be rewarded for the $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions they each gave since 2005 to help the automakers survive.
The workers surrendered raises, bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments and agreed to a two-tier wage system, in which new hires earn about $14 an hour, half the amount paid to senior production workers.
Ford has said it must further reduce its labor costs, which at $58 an hour for wages and benefits, are still higher than the average of $50 an hour Asian and German automakers pay workers at their U.S. factories.
The UAW is willing to expand the use of the $14 hourly wage if the automakers commit to more jobs in the U.S., UAW Vice President Joe Ashton has said.
"We will look at anything that will retain jobs," Ashton said March 29 at a GM factory in Orion Township.