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Third shift planned at Chicago Ford plant to build police cars

Ford is building new Police Interceptor Chicago’s Torrence Avenue plant. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Ford is building the new Police Interceptor at Chicago’s Torrence Avenue plant. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 9:17AM

The 1,100 additional jobs and third shift planned at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant will be used to produce sedan and SUV versions of Ford’s new Police Interceptor vehicle, a Chicago union official said Wednesday.

The jobs are among 2,000 Ford has pledged to create in the Chicago area if workers approve a tentative national contract agreement reached with the United Auto Workers union Tuesday.

Ford revealed plans last year to build the Interceptor in Chicago, but at the time, didn’t disclose how many workers would be hired or that it planned to add a third shift.

Grant Morton, plant chairman at UAW Local 551 in Chicago, said the 1,100 jobs and third shift are expected to become a reality even if the contract doesn’t pass, although he said he believes workers will approve the deal. The remaining 900 jobs are likely more contingent on whether the contract is approved, Morton said.

Morton said hiring to fill the 1,100 positions is expected to begin this Fall and the plant already has produced “a couple hundred”of the Interceptors. The new Interceptors replace Ford’s Crown Victoria police car and will use new engine technology that makes them more energy efficient. The official vehicle launch will be in February, Morton said.

“They’ll start hiring much before that,” he noted.

Ford now employs roughly 2,700 workers at its Chicago assembly plant, which produces the Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus and Ford Explorer on two shifts. It also employs 900 workers at its Chicago Heights stamping plant.

The union and Ford announced a tentative contract deal covering 41,000 U.S. workers Tuesday, a deal that calls for Ford to add 5,750 factory jobs nationally on top of 6,250 jobs Ford announced earlier this year, for a total of 12,000 jobs by 2015.

Most of the 5,750 additional hires will start at $15.78 per hour, a fraction of the $28 hourly wage of Ford’s older workers. They’ll get $19.28 after four years. Ford currently has 70 entry-level workers. The union agreed to the two-tier wage in 2007 when Ford was losing billions of dollars.

Under the contract deal, Ford workers will get at least $16,700 over the four-year contract in the form of a $6,000 signing bonus, $7,000 in lump-sum and inflation protection payments and at least $3,700 in profit sharing this year.

If the deal passes, Ford also has agreed to invest $4.8 billion in its U.S. factories, including $117 million at the Chicago assembly plant and $86 million at the Chicago Heights stamping plant. The $4.8 billion in investments is in addition to $1.4 billion previously announced, for a total of $6.2 billion in investments over the life of the contract.

Voting on the Ford contract is expected next week.

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