The ray of hope piece comes from Automotive News, which says that the Canadian Auto Workers union has given a proposal to Ford that if accepted could save the St. Thomas, Ontario plant where the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis are built from being closed. While the CAW refrained from revealing the specifics of the plan, it involves putting Canada in the running with plants from Mexico and the United States for the contract to build Ford's upcoming B-segment small car. The plan would also have parts maker Magna International build an accompanying plant next to the St. Thomas facility where more Ford cars could be made. The resulting pair of plants would likely become the flexible manufacturing facility Ford said would become part of its recovery plan.
In an article entitled "Ford pits plant vs. plant", the Detroit News explores Ford's strategy of demanding that each plant being considered for closing increase its efficiency, with the added caveat that the most cost-effective and efficient plants will survive the closings. Some analysts quoted think the move by Ford could backfire and create resentment for the company among plantworkers, but really it seems that Ford's just being honest. Time honored union institutions like rigid job descriptions and ample overtime are quickly being tossed out the window as each plant strives to be leaner and meaner the other.
So far only seven of a total 14 plants have been identified for closing, so until the remaining seven are chosen UAW members can expect a lot more belt tightening.
[Source: Automotive News, the Detroit News]