Third shift boon for assembly plant, union leader says

2011-10-04T15:30:00Z 2011-10-10T11:05:13Z Third shift boon for assembly plant, union leader saysBy Bowdeya Tweh bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

The Chicago facility that produces the Ford Explorer, Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS could soon be in uncharted territory, a local union official said Tuesday.

United Auto Workers Local 551 President Carlo Bishop said the plant hasn't had a third shift in his nearly 20 years working for Ford Motor Co., and the automaker's plans to bring 1,100 jobs to the Chicago area could bring plant employment to a historic level.

The union and Ford reached a tentative deal Tuesday on a four-year contract impacting about 41,000 workers.

More than 3,500 people work at the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights.

Ford cut the plant to one working shift in 2008 as a result of the recession, but restored a second shift in 2010.

"You're creating jobs, the economy's getting better, you're generating more membership," said Carlo Bishop, president of United Auto Workers Local 551, which represents hourly employees at the Chicago Assembly Plant. "It's a big task, but it's a good situation to be in."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed a similar sentiment in a statement issued Tuesday.

"It will not only create new jobs and unleash new prosperity in Chicago, but the company's commitment to manufacture fuel-efficient cars and trucks will help pave the way towards a more energy-independent future."

Ted Stalnos, president of the president of the Calumet Area Industrial Commission, praised the UAW and Ford for "finding a solution that will maintain the automakers positive trend and to ensure American auto companies are competing with imports, developing new and innovative ideas, weathering challenging economic times and charting a course for generations of success to come."

From experience with previous vehicle launches, Bishop said the new employees at the facility will likely be in place to help prepare for Ford Police Interceptor production.

Bishop also said he hadn't received final confirmation when ratification votes were due to be sent to the union.

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