Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Labor and Industry was held on Thursday, August 16, 2012, at 10:00 AM, at the Ford Motor Assembly Plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Senator Jack Westwood, presiding as Chair, called the meeting to order, and the committee assistant called the roll.
Members:Senators Ernie Harris, Kathy W. Stein, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Will Coursey, C.B. Embry Jr., Wade Hurt, Joni L. Jenkins, Thomas Kerr, Adam Koenig, Mary Lou Marzian, Charles Miller, Terry Mills, Michael J. Nemes, Tanya Pullin, Tom Riner, Jim Stewart III, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Andrew Tapp, Assistant Plant Manager, Louisville Assembly Plant; Steven Stone, Chairman, Louisville Assembly Plant; Jay Morgan, Director, Government Affairs.
Senator Westwood presided as Chair of the committee as Senator Kerr, Co-Chair, and Representative Nelson, Co-Chair, were unable to attend the meeting. Senator Westwood welcomed guests, Speaker Greg Stumbo, Speaker Pro-Tem Larry Clark, Representative Darryl Owens, and Representative Steve Riggs. Representative Owens spoke on behalf of the Louisville delegation in support of the Ford Assembly Plant. Representative Clark offered his support of the cooperation of the United Auto Workers Union and the Ford Motor Company. The minutes of the previous committee meeting on July 19, 2012 were approved on a motion by Representative Yonts and a second by Senator Harris.
Presentation on Ford Motor Plant
Andrew Tapp, Assistant Plant Manager, Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP), greeted the committee and presented information on the recent transformation of LAP which occurred from December 2010 to July 2012 in order to begin the production of the 2013 model Ford Escape. Scott Eskridge, Chairman, Kentucky Truck Plant, and Todd Dunn, Chairman, United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 862, were unable to attend the meeting. Mr. Tapp informed the committee that LAP recently began operating a third shift, creating 1,200 jobs. Steve Stone, Chairman, UAW, stated that the union membership in 2011 was 1,100 and current 2012 membership has reached 4,500.
The Ford Motor Company began manufacturing in Louisville in 1913 with the ability to produce twelve Model T’s per day. After relocating, at the new site LAP began producing 1.5 million vehicles per year. In 1941, UAW Local 862 was founded. In 1955, LAP moved to its current location at 2000 Fern Valley Road in a building covering two million square feet. The Kentucky Truck Plant was built in 1969, making Louisville “the truck capital of the world.” The transformation of LAP at Fern Valley Road began fiscally in 2007 with legislative support and continued through 2011 with the initial demolition and reinstallation of the facility to over three million square feet. Other improvements included paving the parking lot with environmentally conscious pervious pavers and replacing hard tooling within the plant with new equipment enabled with programmable locators to allow for multiple projects at one location. Process Control Boards were installed to monitor the facility’s functions. LAP boasts best-in-class workforce training programs. LAP electricians serve as trainers on-site and train new employees on replicated work stations and controls, including welding, sealer application, and programming robotics before they are introduced into the plant.
LAP donates to various organizations including, March of Dimes, United Way, St. Baldricks, the Susan G. Koman Foundation, Make A Wish, Adopt-A-Child, and supports the local community by supporting food drives, coat drives, blood drives, and other volunteer programs.
In response to questions from Senator Westwood, Mr. Tapp expressed that education is key in preparing students in math and sciences for skilled and technical positions. LAP is seeking maintenance supervisors, automation engineers, electricians, and people who are able to pass the exams necessary to gain employment in technical positions.
Senator Stein informed the committee of the grand opening of the new facility for advanced battery research, which is part of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research. The facility is home to the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research & Development Center laboratories, jointly affiliated with the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. Jay Morgan, Director, Government Affairs, said Ford Motor Company was the only automotive company represented at the opening.
Mr. Tapp stated that each vehicle is produced with 2,600 parts and represents over 500 suppliers, many of them local, in response to a question from Senator Harris. According to Mr. Morgan, in 2010 Ford spent $4 billion on parts in the state of Kentucky.
Responding to a question from Senator Westwood, it was stated that the general workforce population starts at $15.74 an hour. Engineers and technical positions make $34 dollars per hour or start at $80,000 on salary.
In response to a question from Representative Riggs, Mr. Tapp said in the instance of failure of drug testing, it occurs more often in hiring of the general workforce population, but does not occur as much in hiring of technically trained employees.
In response to a question from Representative Westwood, Mr. Tapp said LAP builds over 1,300 vehicles per day and current demand for the 2013 Ford Escape is high. In response to Representative Marzian, Ford Motor Company exports products to Canada and Mexico and maintains a global platform building similar products across the world in Europe and China.
Representative Yonts made a presentation upon the upcoming retirement of Linda Bussell, the committee staff administrator of the Committee on Labor and Industry for the Legislative Research Commission.
There being no further business the meeting adjourned and the committee toured the Louisville Assembly Plant and Training Facilities.