Transit system will launch 3-Crew in April

By Jim Fisher

In March there have been a couple of significant scheduling announcements. KCAP has confirmed that starting April 3, the Transit System will change to a 3-Crew Pattern. Also, the Skilled Trades Department will launch the 4-Crew pattern on April 17, 2023. Initially the company had hoped to start the skilled trades pattern earlier, but the sign ups had not been completed. Management tried to say they had the right to force our trades to a shift if signups were not completed. The Bargaining Committee enforced our members seniority rights, thus causing the delay and forcing the company to move back the start date until all members had the opportunity to select their shift preference rights.

Last month, our members learned about several announcements. The first was that KCAP and Local 249 had reached an agreement to place an additional 26 members into the skilled trades program. This follows the announcement from last year when 34 new apprentices were added. Once these new apprentices are added, KCAP will have 102 members in the apprenticeship program. The Transit System also received confirmation that our Battery Electric Transit Van had received its first order of 9,250 units from the United States Postal Service. We expect to start delivering those vehicles sometime in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

In March the Local 249 Bargaining Committee took the 169 National Contract Proposals to our Sub Council Meetings held in Detroit. During the meetings we met with the Leadership from all Ford Assembly Plants. This gave us an opportunity to present our proposals, review their proposals, adopt any changes to the proposals, and make them ready to present to the National Negotiating Team. Also in March, the Local 249 Bargaining Committee and other Local 249 delegates will return back to Detroit and attend the National Bargaining Convention. These meetings are the official presentation of proposals to the National Negotiating Teams.

Also, during March Local 249 began handing out fliers with forms for members to now submit proposals to the Local Bargaining Team for the Local Agreement. Members can submit proposals until May 12, to either their committeeperson or the Union Hall. And finally, since the first days of KCAP opening its doors, our members have suffered through the extreme conditions caused by Kansas City’s summer heat and humidity. For years we have seen members battling the rough summer months in several different ways. The higher seniority members will talk of taking salt tablets, later fans on workstations, then water and Gatorade, then we learned the term “wet bulb reading” and the constant fights over heat breaks.

All these things were brought on by the UAW trying new ways to keep members safe from the heat and humidity. The most exciting announcement in March for Local 249 members was that Ford Motor Company officially announced that our plant will be installing tempered air. This new system will help lessen humidity and reduce the ambient temperature throughout the main assembly plant building during the warm months.

Work on this project has already begun and is expected to be completed and ready for use in the summer of 2024. This is one of the single largest investments ever made at KCAP. There will be additional announcements and updates on this as we get farther along into this project.

We said going into 2023 this was going to be a fast-paced year. Our members are preparing for the launch of a new shift in Transit which means more jobs for our members, added job security and additional apprentices added to help keep the plant running into the future. We also discussed securing additional work with the announcement of the 9,250 orders for the Postal Service, and of course additional investments for the plant from Ford Motor Company with the Tempered Air.

However, we are nowhere near being done with 2023. This September both our Local and National Agreements are set to expire on September 15. Any member with 20 or more years of seniority will tell you they came to work at KCAP because it was the best job in Kansas City. Ford recognized the hard work by paying top scale wages, health care while both working and into retirement, our members were able to retire with dignity, a living allowance to protect our wages from inflation, and a much shorter path to full scale pay.

Also, during that time Ford’s employees seemed more dedicated, they knew this was going to be their career, not just a job, and you would never see a foreign car parked in the parking lot. We fought for the quality of our products and customers, knowing we needed the company to continue being successful into the future. Members were proud to tell the public they worked for Ford Motor Company. This September both parties need to work towards an agreement that gets us back to our past values and standards