Looking back at the challenges of 2021

By Jim Fisher

Locally at KCAP we have seen production schedules remaining uncertain and changing from week to week. As I have reported in the past there are still issues with our supply chains, and I expect for at least the next couple months to see additional schedule adjustments. We will work to keep the membership as up to date as possible while the company continues to gain control of their supplier issues.

We have finally reached December, and to look back, 2021 will go down as a very hectic year. To be honest ever since COVID-19 started effecting our plant in March of 2020, our members have had to work through conditions never seen before, not just at KCAP but in American manufacturing as a whole.

I hope one day COVID-19 is gone and supply chains return to normal. Then hopefully this is something we can tell the generations behind us that we made it through.

Our members have had to adjust to so much, but you have done it. Even with uncertain schedules we have had zero members permanently laid off to the street, which is something that happened at several other locations across the United States.

This has not been a year to just cross your arms and feel sorry for yourself. I’m very proud of the way our members have adjusted to the schedules and continued to work our way around all the obstacles they have had in front of them.

This past year the local leadership team was involved in resolving several issues for our members as well. The company failed to pay members in a timely way on several occasions. Our Reps pressed the company and fought hard to get all the pay adjustments completed. We even changed the way we handled pay adjustments with the company by filing an individual grievance against every manager that failed to pay members correctly. The fight over pay was even taken to the NLRB as Local 249 was forced to file Labor Board charges against the plant. These actions have led to less pay adjustments and faster response time from the company when an error has occurred.

The local leadership team was also very successful in getting TFT members converted to full time. In 2020 there was 634 TFT members converted to Full Time In Progression. Most of those conversions were done ahead of the contractual language.

Our 249 reps successfully closed out over 60 Health and Safety complaints this year. The Truck Final Department was completely cleaned out and repainted in a refresh project.

Local 249 worked very closely with the UAW National Ford Department and Vice President Chuck Browning for a resolution to the “Leap Frog” issue. In early November it was announced that the “Leap Frog” pay had been fixed and the effected members would be receiving back pay for their lost wages.

If you have looked around the plant very much this past year you have seen several large investments, expansion projects, and upgrades going on at the facility. In 2022 KCAP will launch the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) in Transit. The beginning of electric vehicles will become a large part of the Ford footprint for the future and KCAP will be a large part of the future of vehicles going forward. However, there are things members must also address to keep leading the way. As a membership we must improve absenteeism.

For all projects taking place in the plant, it can’t be slowed down due to poor attendance. In addition, we must continue to work on improving quality. Ford is very aware of some design issues and of course the problems in the supply chain. However, some of quality that we can control such as missing shots, completing the push-pull-click process on wire connections, and locating all locators must improve. This plant has always had a reputation of “Best in Quality” and we must do all we can to protect our customers, our products, and our future.

As we go into 2022 members will quickly see more upgrades coming to the plant. All these improvements set the groundwork for job security going deep into the future. It is all our jobs to take advantage of this. Our future is literally being set right in front of us. These next couple of years will be very important for what KCAP looks like for the next generations.

Even with the uncertainty of our schedules at the current time, as Local 249 members we have a lot to be proud of as union members. Our plant, our customers, and our community depend on our success. I know that our members will lead the way.

Finally, on behalf of our entire local leadership team we wish you all avery happy holiday. Make sure you get to spend some time with your loved ones, family, and friends during the holidays. We all have a lot of work to do in 2022.