The second largest US automaker, Ford Motor, recently announced it would lay off 700 of its workers at a Michigan plant that currently produces slow selling small cars, hybrids and electric vehicles.
The production facility located in Wayne, in Detroit’s suburbs, manufactures the Focus and C-Max hybrid compacts, both registering sliding sales of 15 percent and 23 percent, respectively in March. The entire shift of 700 workers could still have a job at Ford, as the company said it would seek to redeploy them to other Michigan factories sometimes in 2016. The UAW union, namely Jimmy Settles, the UAW vice president who heads relations with the automaker commented that while the move “is unfortunate, it is not completely unexpected,” and “nearly all of the displaced members will return to active employment at other southeast Michigan locations, some as soon as this summer and all by early 2016.” The falling sales of passenger cars in general and of hybrids and electric vehicles in general are easily attributable in the US to the recent gasoline price drop, which gave a massive boost to buyers of larger vehicles, such as SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks.
Ford is also en route to start negotiations this summer with the UAW union to discuss the worker contracts that are set to expire this September. Ford’s average U.S. hourly labor expense, including benefits, of $57 is seen by the carmaker as a major competitiveness challenge. According to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ford pays around $9 more than Toyota or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, for example.