The factory investments, expected to cost $3.7 billion, will go toward retooling plants to build a new commercial electric vehicle and all-new versions of the gas-powered Ford Mustang and Ford Ranger. Ford will also add workers to increase production of Ford Transit commercial vans and Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickups.
The company didn’t provide any details about the new electric commercial vehicle, except to say that its production will begin “mid-decade” at an existing plant in Ohio.
In addition to the new jobs, nearly 3,000 temporary factory employees will be made full-time hourly employees ahead of a schedule negotiated with the United Auto Workers, said Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s “Ford Blue” internal-combustion business, in a media briefing.
All of those employees will get pay raises and health-care benefits immediately, Galhotra said.
As a result of talks with the UAW, Ford said it will also spend $1 billion over the next five years on workplace improvements in U.S. factories, including better lighting in parking lots and more food options in cafeterias.
The wins for the union come as many U.S. companies are struggling to hire workers and as inflation is fueling Americans’ uncertainty about their finances.
It’s unusual for a Detroit automaker to grant significant concessions to UAW-represented workers outside of the contract-renewal process, which happens every four years. The current labor deal between Ford and the UAW isn’t up for renewal until September 2023.
The moves may be intended to ease the union’s concerns about two massive new Ford electric-vehicle factory campuses, in Kentucky and Tennessee, that might not have UAW representation. Both states are so-called “right-to-work” states and Ford has said it will allow its hourly workers in those states to choose whether they want to be represented by the union.
Read More: Ford to add over 6,000 U.S. jobs as it boosts electric vehicle production