WAYNE, MI—A secret meeting in 2015 between Ford Motor Co. and the UAW led to job security and a sigh of relief among factory workers three years later as they begin manufacturing the Ranger midsize pickup truck at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant here.
“We were developing the idea around bringing the Ranger back, and the Bronco, as well,” Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations at Ford, told the Detroit Free Press. “We thought it made sense to build it in the United States at a plant with history.”
The Wayne plant opened in 1957 and built Broncos from 1966 to 1996.
So, in the spring of 2015, Hinrichs and then-UAW President Dennis Williams, and Williams’ executive administrative assistant, Chuck Browning, met for a private lunch near the Detroit airport. Hinrichs asked how labor might feel if Ford moved production of the Ford Focus sedan from Michigan to Mexico, and then retooled Wayne Assembly to build SUVs. The plan would need to be part of an upcoming labor contract, and Ford didn’t want to make the move without knowing if the UAW might support it.
“They were very supportive,” Hinrichs said. “They knew the workforce would love building the Ranger and Bronco again. So, we ended up making it part of the 2015 negotiations. This is a great story of collaboration between Ford and the UAW.”