Ford (F) is in discussion with the United Auto Workers (UAW) to add as many as 10,000 jobs in the U.S. negotiations for a new four-year contract, people familiar with the talks said Thursday.

Up to 4,000 of those jobs may stem from Ford shifting production of the Fusion mid-size sedan to the United States from Mexico, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.  

Collective Bargaining

The current collective bargaining agreement covers Ford's 40,600 hourly workers. Ford's shares were down 3 cents to $9.90 in late Thursday afternoon trading.

What's more, a UAW leader tried to low-key the chatter surrounding the work force expansion, but in doing so confirmed that the two sides are talking employee position totals:

There have been speculative reports in the media that a deal is expected to be reached by Thursday. There have also been numbers tossed around with regards to compensation and job security, Tony Vultaggio, a member of the UAW's bargaining committee, said in a message for members late Wednesday, The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday. In both instances, they are just that, speculative.

However, Ford is planning to launch the next-generation Fusion from the same platform as Ford's European Mondeo. Ford builds the Fusion in Hermosillo, Mexico, where it has 3,335 workers, The Free Press reported.

Mulally Remains Bullish

Also, Ford CEO Alan Mulally remains a U.S. economic bull, despite the recent U.S. economic slowing and mixed data in September on the expansion's prospects.

Mulally said in Bangkok on Thursday that he sees an economic expansion in the U.S. and not a double-dip recession.

In the U.S., we're still seeing economic expansion, Mulally said, MSNBC reported Thursday. We're very encouraged by the recovery even though it is slower than in the past.

Mulally added that the U.S.'s second largest automaker is sticking to its goal to add 7,000 jobs in the United States over the next two years.

U.S. Auto Sector Analysis: Put the above in the category of good news for Ford, for the U.S. auto sector, and for the U.S. economy.

The U.S. auto sector went through an incredible amount of turmoil and restructuring during the Great Recession, 2007 to 2009, hence any sign of hiring is good news. Moreover, if Ford does add about 10,000 jobs state-side, it will have ripple-effects for parts companies and other auto industry suppliers -- a pattern the nation needs in order to advance the economy to a self-sustaining expansion.