Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two Ohio Chrysler plants awaiting Wednesday contract deadline

10/8/2007, 4:53 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Workers at a Chrysler LLC parts plant in Perrysburg agreed last year to a deal that will end up costing hundreds of jobs within the next few years.

But some may be off the job sooner than expected if the United Auto Workers union sticks with a Wednesday deadline to strike the company if negotiators don't reach a settlement on a new contract.

The deadline directly affects two Ohio plants: the Perrysburg site just outside Toledo and another in Twinsburg, 15 miles southeast of Cleveland. Each plant employs about 1,500 people.

Workers at Chrysler's biggest Ohio factory, a Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, are covered under a separate labor contract so there wouldn't be a strike there.

But a long walkout likely would disrupt production of the Jeep Liberty and Wrangler and the Dodge Nitro at the Toledo plant, because parts made at other locations may become unavailable.

Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said that even if the strike deadline passed, the union could extend the contract as negotiations continue.

The UAW represents about 49,000 hourly workers at Chrysler. Workers the union represents at General Motors Corp. facilities went on strike for nearly two days last month before reaching a tentative agreement with GM.

A year ago, UAW workers at Chrysler's machining plant in Perrysburg agreed to job changes to allow it to make a new V-6 engine and keep it from closing. Plans are for the company to cut about 800 jobs by 2011 and pay new employees less than current workers.

The plant now makes steering columns and torque converters, but will shift to work on the more efficient engine.

Chrysler said earlier this year that it planned to eliminate 110 jobs at its Twinsburg Stamping Plant by 2009. The plant opened in 1957 and stamps hoods, side panels and roofs for vehicles including the Dodge Dakota, Chrysler and Dodge minivans and three Jeep models.

Twinsburg Finance Director Joanne Terry said the plant has been the city's biggest employer since it opened.

Leaders of UAW Local 122, which represents workers in Twinsburg, were involved in contract talks Monday and were unavailable for comment.

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