Workers Relieved After Two Ford Plants in Louisville Dodge Closures

Ford workers expressed relief that two assembly plants in Louisville weren't mentioned in another round of plant closures announced Friday as part of the ailing automaker's restructuring plan aimed at restoring profitability.

"We got a good feeling around here," said Quintin Marcks, who works at the Kentucky Truck Plant in eastern Jefferson County.The two plants employ nearly 9,000 workers, making Ford the second-largest private employer in Jefferson County and the county's largest manufacturing employer.

The company said in a news release that it would shutter a stamping plant in Maumee, Ohio, in 2008 and an engine plant in Essex, Ontario, in 2007.

In addition, an assembly plant in Norfolk,Va., will close in 2007, a year earlier than previously announced. "I never felt we were in danger in the first place," said Lamont Jenkins, who had just finished his overnight shift at the Ford truck plant.

"The only thing everybody out here is worried about is losing a shift. Right now we should be pretty safe. "Ford's announcement came a week after a Kentucky delegation led by Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson met with company executives in Detroit.

State and local economic development officials were in contact with Ford officials in recent days to discuss an incentives package aimed at preserving the two Louisville plants.

"We're guardedly positive," Abramson spokesman Matt Kamer said Friday morning. "It's not time to celebrate just yet. We want to hear from the Ford leadership at their presentation this morning to fully understand their plans.

"Ford executives were scheduled to discuss the restructuring plan Friday morning. Last month, Ford announced plans to idle the two Louisville plants for several weeks as part of production cutbacks.

The Louisville Assembly Plant produces the Ford Explorer, Ford Explorer Sport Trac and Mercury Mountaineer. The truck plant produces Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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