KCAP to add 35 new apprentices this year

By Jim Fisher

As we begin to wrap up the month of April, our plant continues to have weekly schedule adjustments due to a lack of parts. Supply chains are all over the map right now, and shortages are expected to continue for at least the next 12 months. As always, I encourage you to continue paying attention to bulletins, the UAW Local 249 Facebook page and the UAW Local 249 App, where we will continue to share details with you as fast as they are made available to us.

On a positive note, KCAP will be adding an additional 35 new skilled trades apprentices this year, instead of the proposed 10, thanks to the hard work of our Bargaining Committee. Congratulations to all those selected.

Quality continues to be an issue that requires our joint focus and commitment. The Quality for FTT (First Time Through) for the F-Series is at 77.3 percent and the Transit is at 70.5 percent. We need to be diligent and control these quality issues within our workstations. It might be Ford’s name on the outside of these trucks but it’s our blood, sweat and tears that build them. It’s time to take pride in what we build and ownership of the issues that can be fixed instead of waiting for Ford to figure out what to do.

Ford is continually attempting to hire new TFTs to fill in the gaps in manpower, but without a competitive pay scale and with regular down weeks, it’s proving difficult. Make no mistake, this is an issue that Ford could fix anytime they want to, they just have chosen not to. With an average of 18 weeks of layoff last year combined with a starting wage of $16.67 and the fact that it takes almost three calendar years to get short work week or SUB benefits, our TFTs bring in less money per year than the average fast-food worker making $16 an hour.

On top of that, most of our TFT members either don’t qualify for unemployment or don’t receive the full amount of $320. For the work we do, many are deciding that it’s not worth it. That means until Ford decides it’s worth it to pay new hires what they are worth and gives them protection from layoffs with short work week and SUB benefits, manpower will likely continue to be an issue.

During the last 24 months, we have heard many members’ concerns about frustration with the lack of normal conditions and feeling the pain of the many down weeks. Some have made comments like, “What does the union do for me?”

Some answers to that question include several things that have helped carry us through these difficult times over the last few years, even when the pandemic hit, and global parts shortages plagued the auto industry.

Being a part of the UAW, we at KCAP have the negotiated benefits of job security, products lasting into the future. We’ve seen investments in and upgrades to our facilities. Through these commitments, we have built the new BEV center and new MSC building and updated and expanded the stamping plant

Through bargaining, we have managed to convert many of our TFTs to In-Progression way ahead of schedule by leveraging our position with the company against their need for manpower. Those who have been In-Progression during this contract have had significant raises and those who were legacy received multiple bonuses, and no member of this local has been forced to transfer to other plants or been placed on a permanent layoff. All of this would not have been possible without being part of the UAW.

If you think that Ford would give you those things just because you deserve them, and that the UAW had nothing to do with it, then why haven’t they made the changes to compensation needed to hire enough people to run this facility at the capacity and with the quality that we know it can be done? Luckily, for us all, we have a UAW that works to represent its members when companies prioritize production over people.