September 18, 2013 / 8:47 PM / in 4 years

Ford to keep Edge, MKX vehicle assembly in Ontario -union

TORONTO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co will announce on Thursday that its Oakville, Ontario, plant will assemble the next generation of the Edge and MKX crossover utility vehicles that are now produced at the facility, a union official said on Wednesday.

“It’s obviously going to give us the next generation of the Edge and the MKX, so it’s going to help us for sure. It’s going to help the employees and the community,” said Gary Beck, head of the union at plant, Unifor local 707, which represents 3,000-plus workers.

Unifor is a new union formed by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.

Ford sent an invitation to media for an announcement at the plant on Thursday, without disclosing the details. A Ford spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.

To retool the Oakville plant for the revamped models, Ford executives and representatives of the federal and provincial governments are expected to announce a combined investment of more than C$800 million ($775.38 million), the Globe and Mail newspaper reported this week.

The government funds will likely come from the Automotive Innovation Fund, set up in 2008 for research and development projects in Canada’s auto industry. The federal government extended the fund this year by five years and infused it with more cash to lure investment and create jobs in the auto sector.

Thursday’s announcement will be timely for Canadian auto workers concerned about keeping vehicle production in Canada.

Earlier this year, General Motors Co announced it was spending C$250 million to retrofit its CAMI Automotive Inc assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, for future vehicle production. {ID:nL1N0C09RU]

But last December, union leaders were surprised by GM’s decision to move production of its next generation of the Chevrolet Camaro to Lansing, Michigan, from Oshawa, Ontario.

The move was a fresh setback for GM workers in Oshawa, where factory employment has dwindled over the last decade, but a win for Michigan’s hard-hit auto sector.

The new, redesigned Edge is expected to go on sale in the spring of 2015 as a 2016 model.

Making the official announcement will be Joe Hinrichs, president for the Americas at Ford, and Dianne Craig, chief executive of the company’s Canadian unit.

A year ago, the Ford plant’s unionized workers agreed to a new four-year contract that was expected to help create about 600 jobs at the facility, Ford’s only production site in Canada. As well as the Edge and the MKX, the plant also assembles the company’s Flex and Lincoln MKT models.

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