Ford has confirmed a new national labour agreement has been ratified by UAW-represented employees in the US at a rate of qabout 2-1. The agreement covering approximately 41,000 employees improves competitiveness in the US, the automaker said.

Ratification hit an early snag when UAW Local 900, which represents almost 4,000 workers at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant and Wayne Integrated Assembly, both in Wayne, Michigan, voting to reject the deal, though union leaders subsequently said they expected the pact would eventually pass.

Ford is adding 12,000 hourly jobs in its US manufacturing facilities through the four-year term of the contract, including in-sourcing work from Mexico, China and Japan. The company also is investing US$16bn in its US product development and manufacturing operations – including $6.2bn in plant-specific investments – by 2015. 

“This agreement is proof that, by working together with our UAW partners and local communities, we can significantly create new jobs, invest in our plants and people, and make a very positive impact on the US economy,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company’s president of The Americas. “Our agreement is fair to our employees and it improves our competitiveness in the US.”

Ford plans to add production capacity and new vehicles in several of its US facilities, including four assembly facilities.

Auto Alliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan, Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Chicago Assembly Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant each will add a new shift, resulting in significant volume increases.

The planned production growth at the four facilities will increase U.S. jobs by nearly 5,000 – 1,200 at Michigan Assembly, 1,200 at Chicago Assembly, 1,300 at Louisville Assembly and 1,200 at AAI. All are part of a plan to add 12,000 US hourly jobs in the next four years.

Ford’s new national labor agreement also brings new products to US plants. For example, Production of the F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks is moving from Escobedo, Mexico, to Ohio Assembly in Avon Lake after the plant stops current production of the E-Series vans. The company also is bringing F53 motor home chassis and F59 commercial stripped chassis production in-house, investing $128m in the Ohio facility.

The medium truck manufacturing shift will make Ford the only US full-line manufacturer of Class 6 and 7 medium-duty vehicles. It also marks the end of a decade-old Blue Diamond Truck LLC joint venture between Ford and Navistar International, which currently manufactures the F-650 and F-750 trucks in Mexico.

“By moving our commercial vehicle production in-house, we will be able to streamline and strengthen the engineering and manufacturing of our next-generation medium-duty trucks,” said Fields.

Production of the E-Series, currently built at Ohio, will continue to be available in certain variations through most of the decade. A new full-size van called the Transit – slated for production beginning in 2013 at Kansas City Assembly – also will be introduced to commercial van customers in North America.