DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s deal with the UAW is similar to the pact struck by General Motors with a big exception: Ford's pact, the automaker says, gives it more manufacturing flexibility.
That means it can adjust production to meet fluctuating demand and build more hot-selling vehicles.
"This agreement allows Ford to better respond to market demand," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.
Ford is adding 12,000 hourly jobs in its U.S. manufacturing facilities through the four-year contract. Of those, 5,750 are new jobs, making it the most generous of the new labor deals with Detroit automakers.
GM will create 6,400 jobs and reopen an assembly plant in Tennessee.
Since last year, many Ford-brand dealers have said they could sell more of the automaker's newest vehicles, such as the Fiesta subcompact, Focus compact and Explorer crossover, if they had more in stock. Ford's plants building those vehicles are running at maximum capacity.
But Ford's new national labor agreement with the UAW will allow it "to increase manufacturing utilization and efficiency, increasing our ability to match quickly supply to demand," Fields said. And having plants producing at their highest efficiency relative to their size, also called capacity utilization, "represents substantial profit opportunity."
Ford will be able to do this by creating "alternative work schedules" and additional production shifts for more flexible manufacturing. And it can structure work teams to more efficiently build products and improve quality and safety, Fields said.
"It will improve utilization of our facilities," Fields said.
Ford, echoing GM earlier, said the contract will keep the automaker's annual labor cost increases under 1 percent.