Komatsu launches pre-apprenticeships
Komatsu America Corp. has partnered with Chattanooga State Community College to offer the Chattanooga area's first state-certified pre-apprenticeship program.
The inaugural cohort class for the construction equipment maker consists of five high school seniors from Sequatchie, Marion and Hamilton counties who recently participated in a signing day at Komatsu before beginning the program. Students in the cohort are working four hours a day, five days per week and receive pay of $15 per hour.
"The application process was competitive," Pam Gitta, apprenticeship manager at Chattanooga State said in a statement Tuesday. "Students must have taken several high school manufacturing classes to qualify for the program and have their OSHA-10 certification."
Once students complete their pre-apprenticeship training at Komatsu, they will be eligible to start their full-time apprenticeships at Chattanooga State in industrial maintenance or welding following their graduation from high school.
Ford adds 500 jobs at Kentucky plant
Ford will invest $700 million mainly at its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, creating about 500 new jobs over the next four years.
The company made the announcement Tuesday after a state board approved incentives Ford's investment in the state.
Most of the money will go to retool the truck plant, which makes Super Duty pickup trucks and chassis cabs, plus the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs. The company has pledged to add around 500 jobs at the plant by 2026. It now employs about 8,700 hourly and salaried workers.
The investment will support vehicle production, mainly new versions of the Super Duty pickup. Ford was to unveil a revamped Super Duty for the 2023 model year at Churchill Downs on Tuesday night. It goes on sale in the spring of next year.
Ford says it has more than 12,000 people working at two vehicle assembly plants in Kentucky. The company also has about 3,400 workers at the Louisville Assembly Plant, which makes the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair small SUVs. It's also building an electric vehicle battery factory in the state, which will employ another 5,000.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear praised the expansion during a visit to the truck plant Tuesday morning. Beshear said Ford's long history in Kentucky has led to a "special relationship" with the state.
"Together we're going to be building these automobiles and trucks of the future for hundreds of years to come," Beshear said.
Electric airplane makes 1st flight
A prototype, all-electric airplane took its first flight Tuesday morning in central Washington state.
The Seattle Times reports that if the Federal Aviation Administration eventually certifies the small airplane to carry passengers, it could become the first all-electric commercial airplane.
The plane, built by startup Eviation, was built to carry nine passengers and up two pilots and took off from Moses Lake, Washington, at 7:10 a.m. Tuesday. The plane landed eight minutes later.
The company's goal is to show such electric planes are viable as commuter aircraft flying at an altitude of about 15,000 feet (4,572 meters).
The plane, designed by engineers in Washington state and Israel, is powered by 21,500 small Tesla-style battery cells.
Walmart to add fertility benefits
Walmart is teaming up with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families.
The nation's largest retailer and private employer said Tuesday it's partnering with New York-based Kindbody to offer benefits such as in vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
Walmart's employees will get access to more than 30 fertility clinics and in vitro fertilization labs across the U.S. Kindbody's clinics will be available to help eligible workers access Walmart's surrogacy and adoption benefits, as well.
The expanded offerings, which start Nov. 1, builds on Walmart's so-called Center of Excellence model, which provides benefits and coverage for certain heart, spine and joint surgeries and cancer treatments, in partnership with healthcare providers and facilities including the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.
Financial terms weren't disclosed.
"Providing access to high-quality health care is very important to us, and we've heard from our associates that improved access to fertility, surrogacy and adoption support is a priority for them and their families," said Kim Lupo, senior vice president, Walmart Global Total Rewards
Walmart joins other major employers like Amazon in helping employees with adoptions or covering things like fertility treatments. More companies are adding these benefits in part to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market.
— Compiled by Dave Flessner