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Thursday, May 04, 2006

CEOs Fail, But Only the Workers Suffer

There are only two ways an assembly plant worker can hurt his or her employer: Do a lousy job, or ask too much money for it.
 
Neither applies to the employees of this city's Ford assembly plant, which opened in 1925 to build Henry Ford's Model T, and today rolls out a new F-150 pickup truck -- the world's best-selling vehicle model -- every 67 seconds. Of the three Ford plants producing the F-150, Norfolk has the highest productivity -- utilizing the fewest workers per truck -- and the lowest rate of defects.
 
So what have the 2,275 hourly workers in Ford's most efficient plant producing its most profitable product earned for their efforts? The end of their livelihoods. Ford on April 13 an nounced that the Norfolk Assembly Plant will close by 2008.
 
To listen to Ford, Norfolk was victimized by little more than geography; the plant is farther from the company's Detroit hub than the other F-150 plants, so the company is hoping to save the cost of shipping parts to the East Coast. Translation: It's not the Norfolk workers' fault. But they're going to pay anyway.
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